About Papert’s Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas,


by Gilson Domingues -

The book talks about education and computer used as instrument to help cognitive development. Papert writes a critic declaration about the using of LOGO language in the mathematics education for children and the positive impact caused by this process. Despite it was written in 80s, we can affirm that the subject is present, and although we use computers at school nowadays, the book shows a little-explored way: The child as protagonist and author.

Reading the text carefully, I could realize that the education is not limited only by the mathematics learning, by the language LOGO, computers, nor the employed methodology. These elements actually afford an experience linked to the way things are done in labs, leading the student to look for solutions, making knowledge and self-learning, not only on mathematics but in the whole field of human knowledge. The text is enthusiasticand the personal tone that he uses to relate about his experiences has caused me a deep reflection and personal history rescue. I believe there’s a strict relation with the researches in Fab Learn. In my childhood I had the opportunity to use the tools my father used for as a woodworker, and I always tried to create some project. Although I have dispensed a lot of effort, rarely I was successful. Besides that, the learning obtained could help me on new tries on other projects. In counterpart at school I was a medium student, maybe caused for the excess of formalism of information, that today I know they’re important but in that moment I couldn’t make relations between the subjects. The problem on this wasn’t just the kind of information and how it was taught, but the educational system was made thinking that all students may learn things at the same time, by an automatic and mechanized way, and even using computer today, this problem is amplified, by just transmitting a big amount of information. However people are unique and this approach leads each one to learn according his pace. So the Papert’s idea has a different approach. The lab environment allows a learning that seems like what was on Guilds (association of artisans who practice some craft), a learning aimed according the needing and competences of each student, not only based on the age group. In the lab it is encouraged to use of a lot of senses and expressions forms besides just listening and saying. The book talks that the human has a lot of ways to learn and teach.

We can consider the book as a support and inspiration for development of new educational approaches where the educators will share their labs, encouraging students to make prototypes from their own ideas, where learning is not limited only by concepts of “right” and “wrong” but is used also to produce knowledge according to the desired solution for some problem. This can embolden the engineer, designer or artist inside the child.