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ERIC Number: EJ1080969
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1528-5804
Teaching Children Thinking
Papert, Seymour
Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE Journal), v5 n3-4 p353-365 2005
The phrase "technology and education" usually means inventing new gadgets to teach the same old stuff in a thinly disguised version of the same old way. Moreover, if the gadgets are computers, the same old teaching becomes incredibly more expensive and biased towards its dullest parts, namely the kind of rote learning in which measurable results can be obtained by treating the children like pigeons in a Skinner box. The purpose of this article is to present a grander vision of an educational system in which technology is used not in the form of machines for processing children but as something the child himself will learn to manipulate, to extend, to apply to projects, thereby gaining a greater and more articulate mastery of the world, a sense of the power of applied knowledge and a self-confidently realistic image of himself as an intellectual agent. Stated more simply, Seymour Papert agrees with Dewey, Montessori, and Piaget that children learn by doing and by thinking about what they do. Herein, Papert claims that computation is by far the richest known source of these ingredients. Children can be given unprecedented power to invent and carry out exciting projects by providing them with access to computers, with a suitably clear and intelligible programming language and with peripheral devices capable of producing on-line real-time action. But the real magic comes when this is combined with the conceptual power of theoretical ideas associated with computation. Computation has had a profound impact by concretizing and elucidating many previously subtle concepts in psychology, linguistics, biology, and the foundations of logic and mathematics. In this article Papert demonstrates how this elucidation can be projected back to the initial teaching of these concepts. By doing so, he claims that much of what has been most perplexing to children is turned to transparent simplicity; much of what seemed most abstract and distant from the real world turns into concrete instruments familiarly employed to achieve personal goals. [This article was reprinted from Taylor, R., Ed., "The Computer in School: Tutor, Tool, Tutee" (New York: Teachers College Press, 1980), pp. 161-176. The article originally appeared in: World Conference on Computer Education, IFIPS, Amsterdam, 1970.]
Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. P.O. Box 1545, Chesapeake, VA 23327. Tel: 757-366-5606; Fax: 703-997-8760; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education; Junior High Schools; Secondary Education; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: GJ1049