Friends of Papertian Constructionism (Paper)

I wrote this paper for the proceedings of the Constructionism 2012 Conference in Athens, Greece (August, 2012). A link to the pdf version of the paper is below this abstract.

Friends of Papertian Constructionism
Gary S. Stager, Ph.D, gary@stager.org
Executive Director, The Constructivist Consortium

The expressed desire of the Constructionism Conference organizers to expand its horizons beyond Logo programming invites scholars to seek connections to others engaged in similar work and identify powerful ideas consistent with the theory of constructionism. This paper is intended to help raise awareness of constructionism beyond the Logo community while providing opportunities for constructionists to “think about thinking” through the prisms created by with a similar educational stance and the expansion of our community of practice. Papert’s oft-overlooked notion of educology offers a lens through which to explore constructionism in a wider context.

The specific “friends of constructionism” explored in this paper include:

  • One Laptop Per Child
  • Generation YES
  • Personal fabrication and Fab Labs
  • 826 Valencia
  • El Sistema
  • The Big Picture Schools, and
  • The Reggio Emilia approach

Each approach shares a respect for the integrity, diversity, competence and creativity of each learner; the use of authentic tools in the solving of real problems; active or project-based learning; intergenerational collegiality; access to expertise; commitment to social justice; a sense of urgency and a belief that things need not be as they seem.

The constraints imposed by this volume require the author to introduce each “friend of constructionism” with great brevity. One hopes that this “sampler” will inspire readers to further study.

Computers are critical to several of these “friend” while others might find their efforts enhanced by the addition of computational technology to their educational practice and objects-to-think-with. (Papert 1980; Ackermann 2010) Several of the “friends” are based upon the intergenerational learning found in the Brazilian samba school. Others have achieved levels of scale and sustainability often eluding educational innovation. The charismatic visionaries behind the progressive movements described in this paper share a steadfast refusal to succumb to the intoxicating allure of incrementalism.

Knowing that we are not alone in attempting to transform the learning ecology provides great comfort for those who might otherwise be fighting battles in isolation.

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