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Projects, Passion, Peers and Play: Seymour Papert's Vision For Learning

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Students in Oakland prepare to launch paper rockets they designed. (Amanda Lucier for MindShift)

Many of the ideas that have become popular in education today like the power of projects and collaboration -- not to mention the way technology could change learning -- are rooted in ideas put forward by Seymour Papert, who died in 2016. His legacy lives on at the MIT Media Lab, where Mitch Resnick, a key figure behind the development of the kids programming language Scratch, tries to carry Papert's ideas forward.

Papert had a vision of children learning with technology in ways that were revolutionary. He believed that kids learn better when they are solving problems in context. He also knew that caring passionately about the problem helps children fall in love with learning. He thought educating kids shouldn't be about explanation, but rather should be about falling in love with ideas.

Papert also believed strongly in the ways people learn from one another, and he thought technology could play a big role in breaking down barriers between people. In the 1980s when he was talking about these ideas, the technology wasn't yet capable of what he dreamed, but now it can do more.

Lastly, Papert believed in the transformative power of play -- not just carefree play, but "hard play." He believed when children are challenged through exploration and discovery they can learn a tremendous amount. In this short video Mitch Resnick from MIT Media Lab explains how Papert's ideas informed his thinking about children, learning and technology forever.


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