October 5, 2011

“This praise for the concrete is not to be confused with a strategy of using it as a stepping-stone to the abstract. That would leave the abstract ensconced as the ultimate form of knowing. I want to say something more controversial and more subtle in helping to demote abstract thinking from being seen as “the real stuff” of the working of the mind. More often, if not always in the last analysis, concrete thinking is more deserving of this description, and abstract principles serve in the role of tools that serve, like many others, to enhance concrete thinking. For the confirmed bricoleur, formal methods are on tap, not on top. In the kitchen, formal multiplication of 1 1/2 by 2/3 is a perfectly acceptable method, no worse, but no better, than improvisations with spatulas and measuring cups.”

Papert, S. (1993) The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer. NY: Basic Books. Page 146.

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