A few weeks ago, I quietly launched a new site, The Daily Papert to bring Seymour Papert’s powerful ideas to our short attention-span culture. I am gratified by the response The Daily Papert has received and hope you will take a few minutes to read the posts already on the site AND subscribe to its RSS feed.

Three provocations inspired the creation of this site honoring the work and powerful ideas of Dr. Seymour Papert.

First provocation
In August, 2010, I attended the Constructionism 2010 conference in Paris. The conference gathered hundreds of educators, researchers and scholars in a celebration of the theory of constructionism originated by Seymour Papert. Old friends, colleagues and disciples who never met Dr. Papert spent several days sharing their knowledge and 40+ years of recollections, but one person was missing – Seymour.

Seymour Papert was in Maine where he continues recuperating from a terrible accident he experienced in 2006. However, his presence at the conference was unavoidable. As each of the esteemed conference attendees presented their work formally during sessions or informally over meals, the enormity of Papert’s influence overwhelmed me. Each of us and our work represents but a tiny fraction of Papert’s legacy. It might take thousands of us to assemble the quilt that is the life and legacy of Seymour Papert.

Second Provocation
On more than one occasion I have been accused of making an argument based on Papert’s work. Colleagues have exclaimed, “The answer to every question in education isn’t Seymour Papert.” However, Papert was so ahead of his time, so thoughtful, prescient, bold, creative and often times right, that I do find that he either predicted current problems confronted by educators or offered solutions. In many cases, he did so decades ago.

Third Provocation
While Papert’s innovation, scholarship and wisdom is widely recognized across the globe and among scientists, his half century of contributions to his major field of choice, education, is largely invisible. It is not that educators disagree with Papert’s theories or recommendations, they just ignore him entirely. This “idea aversion” (a term of Papert’s) is manifest by Papert’s absence from teacher education texts, educational technology publications and school reform literature.

I hope that this site offering bite-size nuggets of Papert wisdom will inspire educators, parents, scholars and citizens to investigate more of Papert’s work in years to come.

It is the least I can do for a friend, mentor and colleague who has transformed my thinking and given purpose to my life for three decades.

Many thanks to Chris Craft who generously spent hours debugging the site (there are still a few left) after I lost my sanity and patience.

You must not tell a 17 year-old that she needs to “figure out who you are as an artist.”

That really cheapens the notion of an artist.

A friend of mine just asked Facebook friends what they’re reading. Here is my current list if you don’t included the other thousand or so books awaiting my attention…

  1. Loris Malaguzzi and the Reggio Emilia Experience (a biography of one of the great educators of the 20th Century)
  2. The Quincy Jones Legacy Series: Q on Producing (a gorgeous book and DVD about the remarkable life and musical wisdom of Quincy Jones)
  3. Raising a School: Foundations for School Architecture (a spectacular book about all aspects of creating productive contexts for learning by a colleague of Seymour Papert, Dr. Rena Upitis)
  4. David Susskind: A Televised Life (a fine autobiography of one of my boyhood heroes)
  5. Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (perhaps the most comprehensive jazz autobiography ever about one of the most complex musicians who ever lived)
  6. I Walked With Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath (I have been fortunate to spend some time with this amazing musician over the years.)
  7. Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians (there is much to learn about learning and performance from comedians)
  8. The Improvising Mind: Cognition and Creativity in the Musical Moment (as soon as I can afford it – highly recommended by my friend, the great Brian Lynch)

I’m also revisiting more than a dozen books by the amazing Seymour Sarason and Seymour Papert‘s three books on learning and computing.