Thoughts on Papert’s “Children’s Machine”: Chapter 3

Chapter 3 discuses the changes computers have made on school.  Towards the beginning of the chapter, Papert discusses how the school has taken a liberal idea of using computers to change instruction and consolidated them all into one room and labeling it “computer lab”.  Reflecting back on my computer learning, we never really used computers to create anything innovative or abstract really.  Sure, we learned about applications like Microsoft Word, Power Point, and Excel and created the respective files associated with each of those programs, but there wasn’t anything groundbreaking about the experience.  I didn’t feel like I was being challenged to create something that I was proud of, but instead was simply going through the motions.  Maybe I’m not being fair here.  I did have access to these programs at home and spent plenty of time working with them outside of the “computer lab” while other students may not have been so fortunate.  But, don’t you think there should be an opportunity to provide more challenges for students though?  Something that pushes them to create something they can increase their understanding of the technology and be proud of their creation.

Papert address computer aided instruction and how some critics simply think it is a glorified method of “drill and kill”.  I don’t necessarily think this is the case. Like Papert, I believe it provides a means of individualize instruction with different difficulty settings,  immediate feedback for students to let them know how well they re doing, and explanations in trouble areas free of any bias.  If a tool like this can raise test scores, then why are we complaining?

One of the more interesting things within this chapter was the story about how the three teachers from completely separate departments came together to work on a project of similar interest.   A physics teacher, physical education teacher, and a shop teacher all came together to work on a robotics project.  When I first read this my initial reaction was simply “How?”.  Then my question was answered in the next sentence.  A topic as computer oriented as robotics was able to provide a medium for these three disciplines who in the past probably never would have worked on a project to come together.  It is amazing to see how technology has had an influence on our schools outside of simply what my experience used to be.  This is the kind of thing we need to see a lot more of in education.  Collaboration is something that we are going to push for in the future with our students and it can start within the departments of our own schools to find ways to work on projects together.


2 Responses to “Thoughts on Papert’s “Children’s Machine”: Chapter 3”

  1. Did you think his outlook on the computer lab was positive? I thought he was being sarcastic about the lab because it was but in little box too with the students being told what to do.

  2. I didn’t think it was positive at all. My own experience of a computer lab is negative. I just thought there should have been more of a purpose to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: