April 17, 2012

“Nineteenth century researchers seeking to improve transportation stumble on the idea of a jet engine and propose to use it to augment the power of horses pulling stage coaches. Researchers of a rival school ridicule the idea of using technology to solve the problem and suggest that the better way is to train the coachmen. They cite careful experiments to show that stage coaches are slowed down by friction in the axle bearings. They demonstrate that a statistically significant improvement in speed can be obtained simply by training the drivers to use more and better grease.

Of course the anti-technologists were probably right in the short term. But the revolution in transportation was not going to come from studying axles and grease or by training coachmen in better skills. It would come through the invention of the airplane.

Of course the parables don’t prove anything about technology and education. But they do set the tone for what has to be proved: the need and the possibility of inventing the educational airplane.”

Papert, S. (1995) “Technology in Schools: Local Fix or Global Transformation?” Remarks by Seymour Papert for a House of Representatives Panel on Technology and Education on October 12, 1995.

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