Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Twitter Book Club - Seymour Papert's "The Children's Machine" Chapter 9

"Fantasy has always been encouraged in good creative writing and art classed. Excluding it from science is (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

RT @anderscj Fantasy has always been encouraged in good creative writing and art classes. Excluding it from science... than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

This reminds me of some of the more memorable school science projects I have been part of both as a teacher and a student. When I was in 3rd grade I remember an extended project where my teacher told us that we were going to go to the moon and set up a city there. It was up to us to figure out how we might go about doing it. How would we get there? How would we transport goods? How would we get enough oxygen? What would we eat? What would change because of the difference in gravity?

A few years ago I tried a similar project with a team of teachers at the ALC I was working at where instead of going to the moon we went under the sea. The project was sparked by an exploration of tube worms, a living organism that appears not to depend on photosynthesis being part of it's food chain and the question of whether we could adapt like the tube worm if our species needed to go under ground or under water for some reason. This kind of exploration, both for me in 3rd grade and for the ALC students resulted in such divergent deep learning of science, math, language arts, visual arts, sociology, computer science, etc. It allowed for both group and individual projects to sprout off of it. Many students would do their own related projects at home and ask if they could bring them in to add to the project.

I did another project one year where I found an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean and asked the students to create a fictional society there. They had to study the geography, the geology, the climate, then compare it with climates in other parts of the world to determine how the environment would effect the development of the local culture that would emerge. We also determined that there would be no native people and that all people on this island would be immigrants. We used this as a launching point to study the development of other civilizations. Some students became interested in what kinds of economies would emerge and did in-depth projects related to monetary systems and trade. Another student, in what was one of the more interesting off-shoot projects, became interested in what kind of people might be considered this country's "founders" and what people might be granted legendary status in its development. Our school was located in a community center that also housed an early childhood center as well as a senior program. She took photos of the senior citizens, discussed her project with them, and together came up with imaginative biographies based both on the work the other students were doing and on personal insights the seniors provided.

We eventually wrote a constitution, created a military, developed a currency, developed a historical timeline, invented local cuisine, and later went to war with a "Pirate society" that had developed in another class doing a similar project. The depth to which these students learned and understood biology, geography, literature, history, economics, art, economics, math, etc. was deeper than anything I had ever been involved with as a teacher or a learner. It also defied "testing."

"The first use of a technology always consists of striving to do better what had been done before." Papertless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Time and the growth of ideas are usually needed before the idea of using a new technology to do something (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The extreme conservative side is to follow what is already in the school curriculum: There is already more (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"...But on my reckoning, the fraction of human knowledge that is in the curriculum is well under a (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The radical answer is that we should make all knowledge available so as not to impose our own preconceived (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

This "making all knowledge available" is precisely why our creative projects worked so well. Students had access to the "knowledge machine" throughout the project. They also had access to each other, the community, and their teachers.

"The real problem was that I was still thinking in terms of how to 'get the children to do something.' This (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Looking toward the future, it seems obvious that children will grow up building cybernetic constructs as (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Emergent structures often behave very differently than the elements that compose them." Papertless than a minute ago via Twittelator

@anderscj Thank you for tweeting so many Papert quotes over past several days. I feel like I've read so many good books now! :)less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Going to school! I will keep reading (please note @anderscj) today and yes it is because @misterlamb found me ! I'm lucky!less than a minute ago via web

1 comment:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

I like your fantasy journeys both as a student and with students. I have done several projects and lessons like this as well. Student engagement is at an all time high during those fantasy journeys.