[IAEP] Comments on David Kokorowski, David Pritchard and "Mastering" Educational SW
alan.nemo at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 30 23:33:26 EDT 2009
When I get together with other scientists, at some point I ask them how they got started. For most, it wasn't because of school, but because of direct contact with adults, often a relative who was a scientist, and some of the older generation got into it from reading the classic science fiction stories of the 40s and 50s. (This is not a scientific survey, heh heh, but it would be interesting to see the results of one.)
Seymour Papert liked to say "You can't think about thinking without thinking about thinking about something". He meant that most thinking skills, even those which are usable from subject area to subject area tend to be best learned via learning and doing particular subject areas.
However, there do exist any number of ways to assess how well and what kinds of thinking children can do and are learning to do. So please don't worry about that.
Your last sentence is somewhat parallel to what many business types like to say about how hard it is to measure Return On Investment for research funding. But in the business case, this is actually a form of dissembling, since an enormous percentage of all the GNP (and in fact GWP) comes directly as return from research.
Most of these types do not really understand that the potential to make progress and money is directly related to the abilities of humans to convert stored energy of various kinds into constructions and actions. This came not from tinkering and old style engineering, but from scientific research done using the new ways of thinking we have been discussing.
As an example, the ROI for Xerox PARC has been estimated in excess of $28T dollars now, spread around the world as more than $1T per year industry (and Xerox made more than a 20,000 % ROI just on the laser printer). This all came from special funding of just 25 people for the main inventions.
Another way to look at it is that deep thinking is primarily what has made the difference between the Middle Ages and now, and between the average productivity per person in the Middle Ages and the enormous average productivity per person now.
The people who find this difficult to understand are those who did not learn to think well themselves, and they are all too often in places of authority (where they should absolutely not be!) in educational and business systems.
From: K. K. Subramaniam <subbukk at gmail.com>
To: Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com>
Cc: iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org
Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 7:31:07 PM
Subject: Re: [IAEP] Comments on David Kokorowski, David Pritchard and "Mastering" Educational SW
On Tuesday 30 Jun 2009 11:23:24 pm Alan Kay wrote:
> what is more interesting is how well certain ways of thinking work
> in finding strong models of phenomena compared to others.
This is the part that interests me too ...
> So, if we get
> pneumonia, there are lots of paradigms to choose from, but I'm betting that
> most will choose the one that knows how to find out about bacteria and how
> to make antibiotics.
... and this is where I get stuck ;-), particularly in the context of school
education (first 12 years). Unlike the 3Rs, thinking processes have no external
manifestation that parents/teachers can monitor, assess or assist. The
economic value of deep thinking is not realized until many years later. The
latency between 'input' and 'output' can be as large as 12 years and
'evaluation' of output may stretch into decades!
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