[IAEP] [etoys-dev] TED - Alan Kay - Example(8:44)

K. K. Subramaniam subbukk at gmail.com
Wed Feb 24 00:06:36 EST 2010

On Wednesday 24 February 2010 05:53:26 am Edward Cherlin wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 11:42, K. K. Subramaniam <subbukk at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Tuesday 23 February 2010 09:13:59 pm Edward Cherlin wrote:
> >>We also know that simply asking the question and making careful
> >>observations also gives astonishing results, as, for example, in the
> >>careers of Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget. Also Jerome Bruner
> >>
> > Yes. But these people followed the child. Jean Piaget discovered that
> > children in the 2-7 age group do not comprehend conservation of quantity
> > or use logical thinking. Children don't come with fast forward buttons
> > :-).
> It is easy to demonstrate what children are capable of, when you can
> see them do it. It is much harder to demonstrate what they are not
> capable of, or what some can do but not others, or what is dependent
> on development or prior experience.
Maria Droujkova pointed out earlier that conservation of small quantities is 
innate. We also find this in birds and mammals. If you hide a few M&Ms from a 
packet of 10, most first graders can figure out how many you "stole" by looking 
into the remaining ones. Symbolic arithmetic is not required. But what happens 
when quantities have no simple imagery; say 10,000? The conceptual structures 
required to deal with such quantities and generalizing them using symbols 
(stones/seeds) take time to develop.

I am not an expert in child learning and I will defer the larger question to 
the practicing teachers and researchers. As community volunteers, our 
challenge in large scale education is not so much in deciding what children 
are capable of (or not) but in setting up an environment where each child can 
follow his/her own learning curve. I don't rule out the necessity for guidance 
but the assistance needs to be tuned and timed to the immediate needs of the 
child. To me, software like Etoys is interesting not because it is blackboard 
for lessons but because it is a blank paper for children to express what they 
know. I have had many teachers tell me that they got a much better idea of 
their students' capabilities after seeing their independent Etoys projects, so 
now they could tune their lessons effectively. It inverts the conventional 
model where the teachers tells the child to one where the child tells the 
teacher, "This is what I know.  Will you now help me reach the next level?"


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