Chapter Five and Six
Microworlds: Incubators of Knowledge, Powerful Ideas in Mind-Size Bites
“New knowledge often contradicts the old, and effective learning requires strategies to deal with such conflict”
Here are some things to think about as you read these chapters:
When describing microworlds, Papert outlines two principles of learning –– first, relate any new idea to things that you understand, and second, make something new with the idea (e.g. play with it and build with it). With a specific idea in mind, how might we teach it in a manner more in line with these principles? What might a ‘microworld’ for this idea look like (i.e. an intellectual environment that teaches this idea through interaction and play)?
Papert writes, “it is my belief that learning physics consists of bringing physics knowledge in contact with very diverse personal knowledge”. Thinking of your experience as a learner, in what ways have you found tapping into your personal knowledge helpful for learning a new idea?
Chapter 5 makes the argument that in teaching math and science, we spend too much time focusing on right and wrong answers, and too little time encouraging students to creatively explore the topic and construct their own ideas. Do you agree with this assessment, and what does a shift towards the latter goal look like?
In what ways has education already embraced the ideas outlined in these chapters, and shifted from ‘following the cookbook’ to a more experiential and hands-on form of learning?
In Chapter 6, Papert discusses the distinction between abandoning one’s intuition and expanding one’s intuition when faced with a puzzling or contradictory situation. Describe a moment where you encountered an idea that contradicted your intuition. How did you proceed?
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