…until some bone-headed school district tries applying this to teachers.

Ladies, be sure to vote early and often for John McCain. He’s on your side. Really!

Is liar too strong a word?

You must stop for a snack!

Selma, AL

At Martin's in Montgomery, Alabama!


Leg one of my roadtrip is now complete. Despite my son and I having tickets for separate flights to Houston two hours apart, he made it onto my plane. A bit of SMS-prodding from his Mom and finagling on my part and I managed to get the kid upgraded to first class.

We are on our way to Birmingham, Alabama for a civil rights history tour of Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, Memphis, Little Rock and anywhere we can stop for good BBQ. I’ve been deeply moved by the courage and sacrifice of the young Americans who changed this country through their heroic principled actions in the South during the 1930s-1970s. This is my way of paying respect to their efforts and learning more about my country.

I have three books on touring historic civil rights sites and have been studying up.

I’ll try and keep you up-to-date on our learning adventures.

On to Birmingham…

I just wrote the following in response to David Warlick’s blog, Turning the Tables.

The Wikipedia outrage is great theatre, but even unfettered encyclopedic knowledge represents the most superficial aspect of learning.

I’ve said it a million times, but if the dominant metaphor for using a computer is looking stuff up, then kids will look up in appropriate stuff and adults will behave badly.

Did they distribute crystal balls in Vermont? Why are you engaged in predicting the future when there are things every educator can do today, that have been understood for a century or more, that will make schools better places for children immediately.

Any conference speaker arrogant enough to discuss the future of education should be required to publish their plan for reforming ONE school, complete with supporting arguments and references.

I am indebted to David Warlick for calling my attention to (soon to be?) web sensation, Epic 2015. I could not help but think that the Epic 2015 video is what an L. Ron Hubbard book report would look like if he was a 4th grader with a Macbook.

I suppose that the web video’s ominous music and voice of god narration is supposed to scare me about the future in which I will be old and useless. It makes this case by reminding me that Amazon.com sells stuff. Sheesh! I’m unimpressed and pissed that I just wasted several minutes watching this schlock.

OK, let’s say that the video’s shocking future predictions come true and newspapers disappear. So???

Newspapers disappeared long ago from too many schools. A few years ago, my sensational 7th grade social studies teacher tried desperately to convince 9 of more than 100 colleagues to subscribe to the NY Times in his school 25 miles from NYC. If 10 teachers subscribed, the daily paper would almost free. If more educators read a major newspaper each day they might be less inclined to look for inspiration from speakers who fill their presentations with crappy videos.

These conference presentations are reminiscent of the Andy Kaufman Saturday Night Live routine in which he played a record of the Mighty Mouse Theme and made hand gestures as a form of lazy mime.

Where is the original thought, preparation or practical ideas worthy of an audience’s attention?

I’m not a moron and I don’t make educational decisions based on random business data. Recommending that school leaders take this nonsense seriously, based on nothing more than production values, will only make schools worse.

Are educators anywhere near reaching their tolerance for hooey? I’ve just about had it.

I thought it might be useful to share resources related to my old friend Dr. Idit Harel-Caperton’s closing keynote address at NECC 2008.

In April 1992, Harel-Caperton’s book “Children Designers: Interdisciplinary Constructions for Learning and Knowing Mathematics in a Computer-Rich School,” received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Outstanding Book Award.

Dr. Harel-Caperton also co-edited Constructionism with Seymour Papert. Unfortunately, it is currently out-of-print. Used copies are available and libraries may have a copy as well.

Situating Constructionism
by Harel & Papert from their groundbreaking book, Constructionism.

Learning Through Design: Observations from a Constructionist Perspective on a (Possible) Paradigm Shift in the Field – a 1991 paper by Idit Harel.

Related articles by Seymour Papert

Constructionism vs. Instructionism

Computer Criticism Versus Technocentric Thinking

A Critique of Technocentrism in Thinking About the School of the Future

Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete (with Sherry Turkle)

Papert on Piaget (Time Magazine)

What’s the big idea? Toward a pedagogy of idea power

Papert Misses Big Ideas from the Good Old Days in AI (2002 interview)

Perestroika and Epistemological Pluralism
(1990 Conference Keynote)

2004 Transcript of Australian radio interview with Seymour Papert

Papert.org – Seymour Papert articles and papers
Planet Papert

Paper by Edith Ackerman

Piaget’s Constructivism, Papert’s Constructionism: What’s the Difference? – A fantastic paper by Dr. Edith Ackerman to help you understand constructivism vs. constructinism.

Other books of interest