[Fwd: Re: LOGO-L> The Connected Family]

Dale R. Reed (dale-reed@postoffice.worldnet.att.net)
Sat, 21 Dec 1996 20:39:56 -0800

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I thought this interchange on the LOGO list would be interesting to some
of you. Dale

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From: KERRB@Magill.UniSA.edu.au
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Subject: Re: LOGO-L> The Connected Family
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I see this as a clarification of what Seymour *says*. I did say in a previous
post that Seymour is light on in offering practical advice to teachers....

"Jim Baker" <bake0017@gold.tc.umn.edu> says:
>The reality that Seymour is acknowledging (finally) is that to be accepted
>in many, if not most, Western schools as serious and important in the
>curriculum, Logo must be functionally applied to sequenced subject matter.

Brian Harvey said:-
:I think Seymour has been saying this for a long time, at least as long
:ago as _The Children's Machine_ and also in the kind of research projects
:he's been doing, e.g., at the Hennigan School, where the MIT people ask
:the classroom teachers what topic they want to work on, etc.

Disagree. In TCM Seymour puts forward several learning principles (mathetics)
none of which have got anything to do with sequenced subject matter and some of
which explicitly reject the concept. In summary these mathetic principles would
include:-
1. play is OK
2. take your time
3. good conversation promotes learning
4. make it concrete
5. bugs are a very positive part of learning
6. cultivate connections
7. construct your own products
8. you often learn best when you are taught least

I can't disagree with any of these but its damn hard to fit them into your
regular school curriculum.

Jim Baker said:-
>But, his irrascible insistence (until now?) that Logo be allowed to unfold
>without structure in the minds of young programmers has unfortunately
>diminished its acceptance.

Brian Harvey said:-
:I don't think Seymour has *ever* said this.

couldn't point 8 above, you are often learn best when taught least, be
interpreted to agree with what Jim said Seymour says?

:He's always believed in good
:interventions by teachers. What he has said, in the past, and alas not so
:much recently, is that it's not helpful if every kid in the room is
:supposed to be working on the same picture (or whatever) at the same time.
:There's a world of difference between "this week we're studying fractions,
:so why don't you see how you can use Logo to illustrate some idea about
:fractions" and "everyone draw a pie chart that represents 3/5."

Seymour approves the statement that Piaget approves:-
"if you teach someone something then you deny them the opportunity to learn it
on their own"
(a blunt warning that teaching can often be bad).

In their summing up of ISDP (Instructional Software design project) Harel and
Papert say this:- (they are drawing a distinction between apprenticeship
learning and constructionism):-

"...our special emphasis on project activity that is self directed by the
student that within a cultural/social context that offers support and help in a
particularly unobtrusive manner."
(Software Design as a Learning Environment by Harel and Papert (1990), p.3)

Harel is at pains in her PhD thesis (ISDP) to describe what she did as a
Project and not a curriculum.

I think Seymours ideas are great for learning but really difficult for
classroom teachers, in the settings they normally find themselves in, to
systematically implement. This is because of the bells and the curriculum.

The quote cited earlier from "The Connected Family" would indicate, as Jim
says, a softening of Seymour's position. Here is a fuller version of the quote (p.
46):-

"... I have explored in my research the idea of creating a learning environment
in which there is no direct teaching at all. But in the practical world,
especially when one is giving advice to other people, caution is obligatory. So
my position here recognises the reality of both kinds of learning -
constructivist and instructionist - and concentrates on the balance between
them. In fact my strongest advice to parents is to experiment cautiously with a
shift in the balance."

which I think is excellent advice to classroom teachers as well ...

Bill Kerr

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