Visiting Seymour

Audrey Watters, Universities Canada, Aug 01, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Seymour Papert was injured in a traffic accident in 2006 and carries the effects to this day. Audrey Watters takes the occasion of the latest Mindstorms robotics kit (sent to her as a promo by Lego) and a visit to Maine to interview Papert and reflect on his work. She cites a line in a 2011 Wired Magazine article about Khan Academy where Bill Gates dismisses (with an expletive) Papert's constructionism. "It highlights Gates' dismissal of established learning theories, his ego, his ignorance," she writes, ""the huge gulf between those like Gates who have a vision of computers as simply efficient content delivery and assessment systems and those like Seymour who have a vision of computers as powerful and discovery learning machines." To my mind, it's the work of people like Gates who use computers to (as Papert says) "put children through their paces" that should be dismissed with an expletive. (p.s. I was never a Lego person, but I spent a lot of time with Meccano.)

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