[PDF/EBOOK] Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas AUTHOR Seymour Papert

review Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas

Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas characters µ 0 In this revolutionary book a renowned computer scientist explains the importance of teaching children the basics of computing and how it can prepare them to succeed in the ever evolving tech world Computers have completely changed the way we teach children We have Mindstorms to thank for that In this book pioneering computer scientist Seymour Paper. I am in agreement with Papert s theories of child learning In particular while reading Chapter Two Mathophobia The Fear of Learning I had to suppress the urge to open the windows and shout Yes dammit This to anyone who would listenYou see I was one of those kids who thought math just wasn t for them I did fine when we were learning whole new subjects like geometry or algebra for the first time But when things devolved into endless repetition and seemingly mindless rote work I loathed it could only just barely force myself to do the bare minimum to get by I always kind of felt bad about it because somewhere deep in the back of my mind I believed that I did have the aptitude But if this was what math was all about I wanted nothing to do with itLater in life after teaching myself so many different things that my confidence in my ability to learn is very high I ve come to understand how very right I was about math it s real world purpose and applications and how utterly wrong my teachers were I guess I could feel vindicated But mostly the whole thing is just sad All of those classroom hours completely wastedAnyway Papert believes that children learn most effectively when they re trying to solve a problem and when they re genuinely interested in the outcome of the problem I believe that too I know that s true for me as a learner He also believes that computers allow us to examine and learn subjects such as mathematics and physics in intuitive ways which simply are not possible with pencil and paper Computers encourage experimentation problem solving and iterative attempts at a problem until the desired outcome is finally achieved Again I know my programming and writing on computers are what have gotten me where I am now I believe it would work for others as wellI do have a bit of a bone to pick with Mindstorms The cover claims that it s about Logo How it was invented and how it works But that really isn t the case Logo the computer language Papert developed for child learning is certainly featured in this book But it s not at all the central subject And unless I accidentally skipped a paragraph or something the how it was invented part doesn t even exist except for some brief mentions in the Afterward and Acknowledgments at the very end of the book That s strange and unfortunate since I would have been very interested indeed to read about the development of the Logo language and was looking forward to that partWhile it s not horrendous I found Mindstorms to be redundant towards the end The last couple chapters seemed to contain an awful lot of the same arguments made in the beginning and middle parts of the book I would have been much happier if the text had been pruned and concrete examples of Logo being used to teach various subjects had been addedSomething else to note for a book that was first published in 1980 the content has hardly aged a day In fact many of Papert s prognostications are so dead on correct that it s really uite amazing I feel that his uncanny ability to have forseen the future of technology so accurately lends a lot of credibility to his ideas and abilities as a thinker in generalI highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the subject Just be warned that it s much concerned with the theories of child learning than it is about the Logo languageI also wish I could force educators to read this understand it and act upon it

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Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas characters µ 0 T uses the invention of LOGO the first child friendly programming language to make the case for the value of teaching children with computers Papert argues that children are than capable of mastering computers and that teaching computational processes like de bugging in the classroom can change the way we learn everything else He also shows that sc. When I was in middle school we had informatics classes I remember that at some point we were shown the Logo environment and were tasked with drawing various objects on the screen I don t remember much beside that but if you had asked me prior to reading this book what I thought about Logo I would have said that I don t see how it is better than eg python or pascal with imported module for drawing and Turtle is no than a gimmick added to make the language child friendly Turns out I did not get the ideas behind Turtle and Logo at allThis book is not about Logo though Logo is just a product of the ideas in it and a useful example to showcase them Mindstorms is about how people learn and think and what opportunities computers create for helping children with that Of course when you hear about computers used for teaching anything besides programming probably the first image that pops into your mind is the one you would see in many classrooms using computers to plot graphs of functions so as not to waste time drawing them by hand using them for calculations showing presentations or some visualizations or using them to create documents instead of writing them by hand Do you notice a thing in common among these examples They all are not really adding anything fundamentally new just taking a thing that we were doing before we had computers and using computers to do the same thing faster with a appealing output Better ink and paper powerful calculator a slightly interactive TV a typewriter on steroids This does not seem groundbreaking and you certainly can t get a radically better education out of that these all are uantitative changes not ualitative onesIt took years before designers of automobiles accepted the idea that they were cars not horseless carriages and the precursors of modern motion pictures were plays acted as if before a live audience but actually in front of a cameraPapert shows a way to use computers for a ualitative difference in education to let children learn about procedural thinking Surprisingly until fifth or sixth grade given a set of beads of different colors children can t construct a list of all families unordered pairs of these colors This reuires a systematic way of thinking and children do not have any examples of that in their environments because our culture is not reach in necessary examplesThere is no word for nested loops and no word for double counting bug Indeed there are no words for the powerful ideas computerists refer to as bug and debugging Computer allows us to create the only environment which can specifically teach children to think in procedures Using computers we could stop hoping that children would accidentally pick the procedural style of thinking up from their environments And having this style of thinking in their toolbox could help them learn other skills efficiently Papert gives an example of a kid who learned to walk on stilts faster than his friend thanks to thinking in procedures and understanding the idea of debugging he isolated and corrected the part he was doing wrong instead of trying the same thing over and over again until he accidentally got the right movements like his friend didTurns out Logo s ultimate goal is not to teach children programming Its goal is to teach children to think in an important new way give them a new lens through which to look at the world themselves and how they learn And Turtle itself is no gimmick it is the main point of contact with the child an anthropomorphizable object they can pretend to be to see where the program goes wrong which also at the same time teaches them powerful geometric ideas How do you draw a circle when you can only go forward and turn in place Pretend to be Turtle yourself and find out how you can walk in a circle then tell Turtle to do the same Mindstorms is 39 years old It makes you wonder how different schools would have been today had its ideas been heard Computers in various forms are in every home but mathophobia Papert writes about still permeates our culture thanks to the fact that math is still being taught like it was a century ago debugging is still a specialized word without synonyms and from the outside it does not look like the situation is changing Papert has a separate chapter on what would be reuired for his ideas to be implemented and he says that the only possible source of change is the culture itself And it looks like our culture has not been changed much by computers in the domain of education Is it because there has not been a critical mass of parents that would be interested in such changes Or because too few people realize that these changes are possible Many most cultural changes in the last decade happened because of tech startups is it possible to create a viral educational app that could change our attitude towards education math programming It seems to be a useful uestion to ponder How could we help spread these ideas and improve educationThis is a fascinating book It made me think about thinking learning psychology programming languages math and I learned something new about each of these topics and their interplay between each other and you probably will too You should definitely read it even if you are interested in just one of these topics and even if you are afraid of math or programming yourself I am sure you will have much to think about afterwards

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Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas characters µ 0 Hools saturated with technology can actually improve socialization and interaction among students and between students and teachersTechnology changes every day but the basic ways that computers can help us learn remain For thousands of teachers and parents who have sought creative ways to help children learn with computers Mindstorms is their bible. I read this book concurrently to Free For All which showed science as it was practiced in the time this book was written in In the RAND Health Insurance Experiment there was a disconnect that they found between the action and research team Like other disconnects that people complained about in the 20th century this begins to point to a problem at the heart of the 20th century s conception of culture within the free world However something new was happening in 1980 when Paper wrote the personal computer revolution Video games were still 2 years away from being pronounced a fad children by and large did not have access to computers and there was pervasive mathophobia This mathophobia did not just pervade general society but also teachers and the education system Papert made the case that this mathophobia limited the capacity of people to do undirected independent and unstructured thought That this fear of math was in fact a mind killer and an unnecessary one in the new age of personal computing We often aren t able to articulate what we are missing but this book and the style education it suggests are an attempt at doing soPapert looked into the future He saw the problems we face today and attempted to propose a way for the children about to be bornpeople like me born 1982 to avoid or overcome them These problems included mass surveillance thought control balkanization of cultureie the precursors to filter bubbles So the potential risks and benefits were high The key to defeating these problems was to set the children free especially free from the fear and mathophobia The mathophobia Paper describes still lives and thrives 2017 is a year that the UK US France Australia Canada and other countries are all having serious discussions of banning the teaching use and knowledge of certain math There s even rumours of extending this ban via international trade agreements that would bind national governments so that even if citizens voted to undo these bans that they would be cut out of the international economy for their doing so The cost of losing this battle to keep math legal to future generations would be incalculable Copyright recent attacks on code sharing in Europe and the lack of a flourishing public domain through this lens serves to cripple our children s ability to learn by denying them a social universe that so obviously can exist with the by now worldwide ubiuitous and cheap computersIn 2009 I argued in a Copyright Consultation submission that the future could be bright if only the children were allowed to seize it Mindstorms very much supports this position and is practically a manifesto written in that direction Sadly this submission seems to have vanished from the internetThe permission culture that copyright represents actually cuts deeper and though Papert didn t explicitly spell it out there was some explicit discussion about thinking about how to make culture resonate with children so that they can appropriate it for their own ends and broader understanding He was talking about mathematicsbut mathematics is a placeholder for an understanding of everything elsenot the only one but one that he argues should be explored This resonance was meant to be for both student and teacher youth and adult The problem of making mathematics make sense and making computers humane for children to use is how to maximize not mimize cultural appropriation It is to minimize permission culture and copyright as part of thatThere was a dialogue that was basically a shorthand for the larger details of the debate found in Galileo Courtier Science begins to be puzzled when we uestioned why things move to their natural place they begin to ask why Noam ChomskyThis is related to the copyfight above not just on the uestion of how do we fund creatorsscience so that we do not bias the results but also on the level of how to deal with the uestion of a fundamental disconnect between the Old Views of a world without technology and revolutionary new data that technology allowsin Galileo s case telescopes and math itself Also the uestion of experimenting with ideas by using the mask of Anonymous is relevant here as well Copyright is crippling our children if this book is any indication Likewise one aspect of the struggle between Galilean programs and Aristotelian ones is that it s a struggle between formalist and those who might escape formalism This struggle is by far not over and the fruit from undertaking it will not only bring fruit for my generation but also the nextPappert is not a psychologist he s an epistemologist so he takes a neutral view on psychology and does not pick sides in the many branches of psychology ranging from the by the 1980s discredited freudian school to plato to somewhat modern cognitive science and everything in between This makes for strange if revolutionary readingThis book builds a lot on the shoulders of giants It tries to take a step towards understanding knowledge language and math as children are actually capable of learning it phrased in terms of primitively recursive programs so that it s one step closer to testable But much of the work of producing such a theory is punted to our generation I wonder how far those who read this took him up on that Part of the answer here is understanding our emotions on this programmatic level and Steven Pinker s description of how utterly functional they are to social problems inherent in our history as a species The very same social problems that say Parfit looks atPart of the endgame though is to bring a new understanding of existing fields like physics I couldn t help but think after skimming some older works about the generalizing of motion and differentials suggested in mindstorms It kind of makes me wish I had and freer access to children who might be the source of important uestions that can lead us to have a deeper understanding on issues like say morpheogenesisIn particular the formal PoV tends to be missing an intuitive what does this mean in response to me view It also seems to harbour within it a type of confirmation bias in practice to show that things have to be a certain way rather than to show how to construct the situation intuitively Especially when we re talking children the purpose of working on the problem is not to get the right answer but to look sensitively for conflict between different ways of thinking about the problem Ie not to prove yourself right but to do something fruitfulConflict points unstable points points of contention can lead to Teachable MomentsSeriously though there is a gap in our culture that we do not have an institution or incentive to fill it seems to be nobody s business to think in a fundamental way about science in relation to the way people think and learn it Although lip service has been paid to the importance of sicence and society the underlying methodology is like that of traditional education one of delivering elements of ready made science to a special audience The concept of a serious enterprise of making science for the people is uite alien Hackerspaces are partway there and so are some groups who investigate existential risksbut there s a lack of a systematic approach here that uses as a starting point not excluding children Also relevant here ScienceMart does this allow us to conjecture that mathematics shares with jokes dreams and hysteria than is commonly recognizedThe rethinking of culture that is called for doesn t just mean broadening our ability for datalove It means a much deeper rethinking of the structures and perhaps broadening our expectation of the transgressions that was to come from the perspective of the world of 1980the emergence of motion pictures as a new art form went hand in hand with the emergence of a new subculture a new set of professions made up with people whose skills sensitivities and philosophies of like were unlike anything that had existed before The story of the evolution of the wold of movies is inseperable from the story of the evolution of the communities of people Similarly a new world of personal computing is about to come into being and its history will be inseparable from the story of the people who will make itDownside Like many geeks of the early PC revolution there s perhaps an overlooking of the social connection to computing political power and non platonic relationships say between students The ideas in this book certainly have broader implications in terms of these interpersonal and personal groupstate relationships up to and including NSAFacebook but this is not really the book to learn about these Perhaps a seuel to mindstorms could be written that delves into these topicsBut one thing is for sure it is possible to leverage computerseducation into these topics and the key may very well be locating them as meaningful to the student using something very much like LOGOAnyways in short the book seemed very much like a manifestonot the thorough treatment that I was looking for Part of the excitement in the book I was already infected with by virtue of just being born in the 1980s part of it was by virtue of my participation in the cyberculture But it s an extra hit of this infectious meme that maybe things could be better if we don t ignore the obvious new tool in our toolkit if we use the distraction rectangles instead of allowing ourselves to be used by themOne might even say that computer science is wrongly so called Most of it is not the science of computers but the science of descriptions and descriptive languages It turns out Ada Lovelace had it right all along It s not computer science it s poetic science Poetry is essentially human and it s through poetry and poetic science that a humane world can perhaps be built

  • Paperback
  • 252
  • Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas
  • Seymour Papert
  • English
  • 09 September 2017
  • 9780465046744