I am barely half way through Papert’s book, but I should be able to finish it this week. I don’t have any killer comments to make except that I am really glad that I have been pointed in the direction of this book because it gives me an idea of how we might go about restructuring our system of education, but my brain is not so nimble as to see the details of how to get there at this moment. It is my understanding that Papert is suggesting that computers should not be used in the classroom to support traditional instruction but rather to let students explore what they want to learn. That may be an oversimplification, nonetheless I am having trouble breaking out of the educational mold that I grew up in and that presently exists for the most part.
While reading, I began to think about how to break out of that mold. Currently, I am imagining my classroom with enough computers for every student. Then, what would I do? For my class, I think that I would begin with daily listening to different podcasts and having students explain what they had heard. If the school would allow it – a potential hitch – I would arrange for the students to chat with authentic Spanish-speakers in addition to non-natives who are learning. I do think that students would get more out of that than the paired conversations that I have them do in class. I hope that I can find some teachers on Ning who are making this conversion or who are already there.
A point that sticks out in my mind from Chapter 3 is the story of Raymond who had been classified as “learning disabled,” but when he was able to use a computer, he did work that surprised his teachers. After that, he was even more disenchanted with the traditional school system because he had learned about a better way to learn. I wonder if the same change has occurred in more students and not just the so-called “learning disabled”. Maybe students have already figured out that so much of what teachers are trying to teach in school can easily be found on the Internet and so they are tuning out.
Another idea that I liked and would like to see in our school is having teachers from different departments work together on a project using computers. We are supposed to be collaborating, but it seems as if there is never enough time because we are busy trying to figure out how to hit all of the core content topics before CATS testing. On this issue Papert writes (and I paraphrase) that using computers more in the school makes them become a part of the culture. We use computers now, but it is mostly in isolated ways. Also, not every class is able to use computers everyday. If we collaborated more, more students could use the computers and the culture of technology use would change.
Okay, I think I am starting to ramble. Just one more thing to say, I wonder where one can learn to use Logo. I would like to try it.