Dan and Molly Lynn Watt are two of the most remarkable humans I know. Their work and lived example has inspired me since the 1980s. Dan was the first educational guru I ever met forty years ago and their summer institutes of the eighties are the foundation of my summer institute, Constructing Modern Knowledge. I was a participant in their Logo Institute in 1986 and then honored as a “Visiting Scholar” at a subsequent institute. When I started the New Jersey Educational Computing Conference in 1987, Dan and Molly were the keynote speakers.
While leading professional development at the world’s first “laptop” schools in the early 1990s, I brought Dan and Molly to Australia for the Logo conference I chaired. Sharing Molly and Dan as members of the Constructing Modern Knowledge faculty and as guest speakers at this summer’s institute brings more joy than words can express. I’ve been fortunate enough to have learned with and from Dan & Molly for four decades.
In the mid-1980s, there were no more popular, important, or in-demand educators in the world. There may be no other people more influential in popularizing Logo or classroom computer programming than the Watts. For educators wishing to use computers to create, to play, to learn, to be mathematicians rather than being taught math, the Logo programming language was the way to realize those goals.
Dan’s 1983 book, Learning with Logo, sold more than 100,000 copies. Just think about that. At a time when microcomputers were in their infancy, 100,000+ people purchased a book intended to help adults teach computer programming to children. The Watts were in-demand as speakers, workshop leaders, and writers. I remember when their expertise took them to China at a time when few educators traveled there, let alone were invited to teach.
Dan was an engineer, science educator, and member of the MIT Logo Group in the 1970s. He played a major role in The Brookline Project, one of the most significant early educational computing research projects. Molly was a teacher and school administrator steeped in progressive education. Both were veterans of the righteous causes of civil rights, women’s rights, and the anti-war movement. They’re poets, authors, folksingers, parents, grandparents, tinkerers, ukulele players, adventurers, activists, and loyal friends. Watching them lead teachers in a reflection circle is like witnessing a great ballerina dance or Yo-Yo Ma perform artistic wizardry.
If and when I grow up, I aspire to be just like Molly and Dan.
Without them, there is no me. There is certainly no Constructing Modern Knowledge.
Teaching with Logo
In 1986, the Watts published a groundbreaking book, Teaching with Logo: Building Blocks in Learning. This text is a model of progressive pedagogical practices in a modern computational context. It not only explains to educators how to use Logo, but situates the why in a context of carefully observing the intellectual development of their students.
Dismiss Logo programming, set aside the use of computers, and Teaching with Logo: Building Blocks in Learning will still teach you how to be a better, more thoughtful, and empathetic teacher. This practical text remains an exemplar for pedagogical approaches to constructionist/learner-centered education.
Teaching with a powerful tool, programming environment, buddy, or mentor is a critical distinction when thinking about education. This is distinct from teaching to do something, or even worse, teaching about it since knowledge is a consequence of experience, rarely developed in isolation.
Sadly, education is plagued by amnesia. Far too many seminal texts have gone out-of-print or have been casually erased from memory. This is one of the reasons why I created The Daily Papert and invest so much time preserving timeless treasures like Teaching with Logo: Building Blocks in Learning. Thanks to Dan and Molly’s generosity and the great Maria Knee’s willingness to sacrifice her personal copy of the book, Teaching with Logo: Building Blocks in Learning will live on digitally in PDF form.
Download your copy of this classic book here.
An amazing story of programming Logo in the classroom, Teaching With Logo is the gold standard for how to successfully teach students to think about thinking. Scaffolding, student-driven explorations of art and geometry, and thoughtful reflections make this a must-read.– Josh Burker, author of The Invent to Learn Guide to Fun & The Invent to Learn Guide to More Fun
I truly hope that many of you and generations of future generations of educators will find this work as inspirational as we do.
Other archived texts by Molly and Dan Lynn Watt
While we have your attention, here are some other texts by the Watts for you to explore.
New Paradigms in Classroom Research on Logo Learning by Daniel Lynn Watt and Molly Lynn Watt
A research monograph (book) of teacher action research funded by the National Science Foundation.
Watt, D. L., & Watt, M. L. (1993). New Paradigms in Classroom Research on Logo Learning. International Society for Technology in Education.
Logo Action Research paper by Daniel Lynn Watt and Molly Lynn Watt
Molly Lynn Watt & Daniel Lynn Watt (1993) Teacher Research, Action Research: the Logo Action Research Collaborative, Educational Action Research, 1:1, 35-63, DOI: 10.1080/0965079930010104
Teacher-Made Microworlds: or Training Teachers to Use Logo Logo vs. Training Them to Teach It by Dan Watt
Watt, D. (1985). Teacher-Made Microworlds: or Training Teachers to Use Logo Logo vs. Training Them to Teach It Educational Computing Organization of Ontario.
The Power of Logo by Dan and Molly Watt (late 1980s)
Twenty Powerful Ideas by Molly Watt
Watt, M. (1985). Twenty Powerful Ideas. National Logo Exchange (September 1985).
Logo Quilt: A Collaborative Learning Project by Dan and Molly Lynn Watt in the May 1986 issue of Logo Exchange. This is the original seed that has blossomed into many projects, notably Josh Burker’s Turtle Art Tiles Project.