Monday, December 3, 2012

Seymour Papert Interview

First of all, I never would have guessed that this interview was conducted over ten years ago.  It is surprising that the information Papert says is still so relevant today.  He is speaking about something that has seemed to grown in leaps and bounds over the last ten years but at the same time it seems as though the interview could have been done yesterday.

Papert emphasizes the unbelievable amount young children can learn.  How children are self directed learners taking in the whole world and how the computer will only facilitate this.  I completely agree.  He uses the example of seeing an elephant and the child wonders how does the elephant eat.  By using the computer the child can teach themselves this.  Similarly to how they teach themselves about the world around them but instead they need the internet.  I think it is important to expose young children to the internet at a young age.  Especially in today's world with the amount of technology we rely on and what a valuable skill becoming technologically literate has become.  If we were not to expose young children to computers, technology. etc. we would be doing them a great disservice   I think it is important though to balance the amount children learn from the internet and make sure they are still learning about the world around them by actually experiencing the world around him.

I found it really interesting that Papert says in his book, The Connected Family that the internet can actually bring a family together.  I couldn't disagree more with this claim.  I think that the internet allows each individual to find more people like themselves (whether it is their friends, or other people they meet online with common interests) and the individual spends all of their time socializing, etc. with those person.  In no way does it bring the family closer.  Also, a lot of times parents are nervous to use the internet or new technology because they don't understand how to use it whereas kids seem to be able to pick it up like it's nothing and really enjoy it.  I think that this causes even more of a divide in the family as opposed to connecting the family.

I see his prediction for what technology will do for schools beginning to come true and I think that it will grow as we move towards the future.  The only part I disagree with would be the idea that the age divide will disappear.  I don't think this will ever happen.  I think that as people get older they begin to fear new things (whether it is technology or not).  So although children like technology now and pick it up quickly and without any reservations, when these same children are 60 their will be new technology that they are not accustomed to and they will not be so willing to learn it.  I'm not sure we will ever get over the age divide.

Overall, I am surprised at how much of the information Papert says is still relevant today.  Although I agree with many of his points about the usefulness of technology in learning and how technology should be incorporated into young children's lives, I don't think that it brings families closer and I don't think it will banish the age divide.

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