iPads and echoes of 1980 and Mindstorms

The Atlantic published an article that unknowingly makes the same case as HCLE. We have much to learn about how kids learn when computers are involved, yet we don’t study history as much as we should – even when a school system is about to spend $1B on hardware.

Students Are ‘Hacking’ Their School-Issued iPads:
Good for Them – The Atlantic

Here are some select quotes:

“. . . with the promise that ed-tech has made for decades now of better student achievement with more modern, more mobile teaching and learning opportunities. The Los Angeles School District alone, where some of this purported “hacking” occurred, has plans to spend $1 billion for an iPad rollout”

“In his 1980 book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, education technology pioneer Seymour Papert predicted that . . . ‘Computers would “challenge current beliefs about who can understand what and at what age.”‘

“But Papert’s arguments about “powerful devices” and “powerful ideas” and their capacity to transform teaching and learning run counter to the ways in which many schools view computers, even 35 years after the publication of his influential book.”

Thirty five years ago, young curiosity found ways to make the machines do things the teachers hadn’t imagined. The students taught themselves. They made themselves into motivated students. No teacher action required – though it took a lot of wisdom to know when to step in and when to step away.

Today’s teachers are experiencing the same situations. The lessons were learned; but possibly never treated with the proper respect or given the proper opportunity to be spread to those that need it most. Now’s the time to save those lessons, so teachers from 1980 who are shaking their head at the predicament of today’s teachers may actually have the reference material available to back up their insights.

Hundreds of millions, and evidently billions, of dollars are being spent and millions of children are affected. Saving a generation’s work costs much less, and the lessons can make today’s actions worth much more.


One thought on “iPads and echoes of 1980 and Mindstorms

  1. Protecting kids from the seamier parts of the Internet is not a doable task. Give up. They are going to have cell phones with private access to the World Wide Web anyway, even if only via some richer kid’s iPhone. It’s all right. They have eaten of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so they will learn for themselves. Appreciate and support them.

    If you don’t freak out, you may get a chance to discuss the meaning and import of both sex and violence in fiction and news media and in real life. Those all trigger strong reactions in the brains of humans who evolved in much more dangerous times, hard as it may be to see the truth of that. Still discussion with a trusted and concerned adult can smooth the path of growing up and help to avoid some of the hazards that remain and grow in our modern world.

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