Learning from Seymour Papert – #BacktoLearning

Far beyond the idea of giving computers to children with “an educational purpose”, like if education meant just providing content to be consumed, the origins of the learning philosophy of OLPC has been to provide kids with computers so that they can compute.


Seymour Papert believed, supported by decades of research, that by computing (coding, programming), the learner could be empowered to understand, create and think about their own learning, especially at early childhoold.

This panel from the Spring 2014 Member Event at the MIT Media Lab will explore more in detail the learning vision of Papert. Enjoy!

Panelists: Mitch Resnick, Marvin Minsky, Alan Kay, and Nicholas Negroponte.

Nicholas Negroponte: Re-thinking learning and re-learning thinking

Published on Mar 19, 2013

Re-thinking learning and re-learning thinking

Nicholas Negroponte, Technology Visionary and Founder, One Laptop per Child

What if we have learning all wrong?

In this thoughtful, provocative keynote, Professor Negroponte explores the implications of the work of One Laptop per Child (OLPC), the non-profit association he founded in 2005. Distributing 2.5 million rugged laptops around the world and seeing how impoverished children use them has provoked Professor Negroponte into re-considering much that we take for granted about how children — and all of us –learn.

The industrialisation of schooling, he argues, has replaced our natural wonder of learning with an obsessive focus on facts. We treat knowing as a surrogate for learning, even though our experience tells us that it is quite possible to know about something while utterly failing to understand it.

And compounding this is instructionism’s fatally flawed belief that anything can be taught and that there is a perfect way to teach everything. If we have learned one thing from OLPC, it is that the human mind is too rich, complex and wonderful for that.

This lesson does not apply only to children, and it does not apply only to developing countries. Children can — and do — learn a great deal by themselves before they have their natural curiosity extinguished, too often by school. And those children grow into adults. So how would our education systems and our adult lives be better, if we focused a little less on measuring what we tell people and a little more on understanding how they discover?