Chapter One and Two
Computers and Computer Culture, Mathophobia: the Fear of Learning
“What is happening now is an empirical question. What can happen is a technical question.
But what will happen is a political question”
Here are some things to think about as you read these chapters:
Papert describes the QWERTY phenomenon, where ideas get ‘locked in’ not because they’re good ideas but because they came first. What are some examples of QWERTY thinking from your experience? How might we push back against this phenomenon (and how are people already doing so)?
If you have coding experience, has learning to code changed the way you think about any other aspects of your life, and if so, what and how?
In the last page of Chapter 2 (page 54), Papert describes three principles for learning. To paraphrase, it should be 1. personally relatable, 2. empowering, and 3. socially relevant. What’s an example of an educational encounter in your life that did not fit these criteria? And can you think of any educational encounters that did fit these criteria?
What ideas that you’d like to discuss most jumped out at you when reading this section?
Papert sees computers as objects that can make abstract ideas more concrete. Pick an abstract idea that you’re familiar with. What object makes this idea more concrete? (It could be a toy, game, puzzle, comic, illustration, poem, essay, activity, computer program, etc.) If no existing object comes to mind, can you imagine such an object?
Papert described ‘Piagetian learning’ as “learning without a curriculum”. Pick an abstract idea that you’re familiar with. What activity might teach this idea through exploration or play (e.g. in a manner similar to how Papert’s “concrete poetry” teaches grammar)?
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