February 15, 2011

“I think if your concept of school is what school is as you’ve seen it in the past, well what else would you do with the computer except put it in there? But why is there no discussion about whether school could be very different, and how different it could be? Now, very different can mean very different things to very different people, to everybody.

So, I’d like to run through a few of the features of school that I think are clearly, or at least plausibly enough, technologically determined. In particular, they are determined by the previous epoch of information technology in which print and writing on a chalkboard and all the rest of the stuff we know were the only ways we had of disseminating knowledge. This was when certain ways of doing “education” took form. I would like to say that almost everything you can think of about school is a product or reflection of that epoch. And so it is oxymoronic — not to mention just plain moronic — to think that the role of the computer should be to get in there and improve a system which exists as a result of the technological limitations of a previous epoch.”

Papert, S. (1997). Looking at School Through School-Colored Spectacles. Logo Exchange, Winter 1997.

A version of this article was published in Logo Exchange in the winter of 1997. It was adapted from a talk delivered by Seymour Papert at the MIT Media Lab, June 4, 1996, at an event sponsored by The American Prospect Magazine.

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