thank you, Seymour Papert
This morning, kiddo was pretending to be a robot, so when I needed her to switch her attention from, say, getting dressed to brushing her teeth, I’d have to pretend to “reprogram” her before she’d cooperate. This got me wondering if she was maybe old enough to try some basic programming activities—something like LEGO Mindstorms. I think that she’s probably still a bit young for that sort of thing, but it made me excited about doing this sort of thing in the future.
Thinking about this also got me thinking about my first experiences with programming. In 6th grade, I got to mess around with Logo (more likely a Logo derivative, but I couldn’t possibly remember the details) in a computers class, and I loved moving that little turtle around. In 7th grade, I joined my middle school’s robotics team and got to do programming of our LEGO Mindstorms robot. I don’t remember how we did in competition, but it wasn’t badly, and it was loads of fun to expand my knowledge.
I do a fair amount of programming (and other coding) for my job, and my ability to pick a lot of this up goes back to Logo and LEGO Mindstorms. It occurred to me today (as I’m sure it’s occurred to me in the past) that both of those are connected to the late Seymour Papert in one way or another. I harbor a lot of residual grumpiness about CS education, but none of those are related to the core idea that teaching kids how to program is a good thing. I haven’t read a lot of Papert, but I’m pretty sure he got a lot of things right here—at any rate, I owe a certain amount of my professional success to his work and writing decades ago, and I’m grateful for it. Thank you, Dr. Papert.
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