Aceptado: 30 de mayo de Diferentes indi- viduos pueden desarrollar diferentes formas de pensamiento en determinadas situaciones, y ha- cerlo con excelencia. Se trata, simple- mente, de estilos diferentes, pero eso no implica ne- cesariamente que unos sean superiores a otros Pa- pert and Turkle, Por esto el ambiente debe estar adecuada- mente organizado, estructurado y previsible, si se de- sea que sea favorable al desarrollo cognitivo. Entre los rasgos estimulantes del medio, es funda- mental facilitar al educando la posibilidad de enri- quecer su trabajo u actividad con sus ideas y moti- vaciones personales. El rol del educador El educador debe estar consciente de la importan- cia de su rol.

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It is easy enough to formulate simple catchy versions of the idea of constructionism; for example, thinking of it as "learning-by-making. My little play on the words construct and constructionism already hints at two of these multiple facets--one seemingly "serious" and one seemingly "playful. And this in turn implies a ramified research program which is the real subject of this introduction and of the volume itself.

But in saying all this I must be careful not to transgress the basic tenet shared by the V and the N forms: If one eschews pipeline models of transmitting knowledge in talking among ourselves as well as in theorizing about classrooms, then one must expect that I will not be able to tell you my idea of constructionism.

Doing so is bound to trivialize it. Instead, I must confine myself to engage you in experiences including verbal ones liable to encourage your own personal construction of something in some sense like it.

Only in this way will there be something rich enough in your mind to be worth talking about. But if I am being really serious about this, I have to ask and this will quickly lead us into really deep psychological and epistemological waters what reasons I have to suppose that you will be willing to do this and that if you did construct your own constructionism that it would have any resemblance to mine?

I find an interesting toe-hold for the problem in which I called the playful facet--the element of tease inherent in the idea that it would be particularly oxymoronic to convey the idea of constructionism through a definition since, after all, constructionism boils down to demanding that everything be understood by being constructed.

The joke is relevant to the problem, for the more we share the less improbable it is that our self-constructed constructions should converge. Experience shows that people who relate to that kind of thing often play in similar ways. And in some domains those who play alike think alike.

Those who like to play with images of structures emerging from their own chaos, lifting themselves by their own bootstraps, are very likely predisposed to constructionism. They are not the only ones who are so predisposed. In Chapter 9 of this volume, Sherry Turkel and I analyze the epistemological underpinnings of a number of contemporary cultural movements. We show how trends as different as feminist thought and the ethnography of science join with trends in the computer culture to favor forms of knowledge based on working with concrete materials rather than abstract propositions, and this too predisposes them to prefer learning in a constructionist rather than in an instructionist mode.

In Chapter 2, I make a similar connection with political trends. It does not follow from this that you and I would be precluded from constructing an understanding about constructionism in case you happened not to be in any of the "predisposed groups" I have mentioned.

Of course not. I am not prepared to be "reductionist" quite to that extent about arguing my own theory, and in the following pages I shall probe several other routes to get into resonance on these issues: for example, stories about children are evocative for more people than recursions and can lead to similar intellectual positions.

More like the tinkerer, the bricoleur, we can come to agreement about theories of learning at least for the present and perhaps in principle only by groping in our disorderly bags of tricks and tools for the wherewithal to build understandings.

In some cases there may be no way to do it one-on-one but a mutual understanding could still be socially mediated: for example to recall the context of discussing how to use this volume we might both find ourselves in tune with Carol Strohecker and her evocative descriptions of working with knots. This would be tragic if we were locked into a classroom or other power ridden situation where one of us has to grade the other; but in the best phases of life, including real science and mathematics, it turns out much more often than is admitted in schools to be right to say: vivent les differences!

I might appear in the previous paragraph to be talking about accepting or rejecting constructionism as a matter of "taste and preference" rather than a matter of "scientific truth. When one looks at how people think and learn one sees clear differences. Although it is conceivable that science may one day show that there is a "best way," no such conclusion seems to be on the horizon.

Moreover, even if there were, individuals might prefer to think in their own way rather than in the "best way. The weak claim is that it suits some people better than other modes of learning currently being used. The strong claim is that it is better for everyone than the prevalent "instructionist" modes practiced in schools. A variant of the strong claim is that this is the only framework that has been proposed that allows the full range of intellectual styles and preferences to each find a point of equilibrium.

But these are not the questions to guide research in the next few years for they presuppose that the concept of constructionism has reached a certain level of maturity and stability. The slogan vivent les differences might become inappropriate at that stage. But when the concept itself is in evolution it is appropriate to keep intellectual doors open and this is where we are now. To give a sense of the methodology of this early "pre-paradigmatic" stage I shall tell some stories about incidents that fed the early evolution of the idea.

More than 20 years ago, I was working on a project at the Muzzey Junior High School in Lexington, MA, which had been persuaded by Wally Feuerzeig to allow a seventh grade to "do Logo" instead of math for that year. But the story I really want to tell is not about test scores. For a while, I dropped in periodically to watch students working on soap sculptures and mused about ways in which this was not like a math class.

In this particular art class they were all carving soap, but what each students carved came from wherever fancy is bred and the project was not done and dropped but continued for many weeks. An ambition was born: I want junior high school math class to be like that.

For a long time it existed in my head as "soap-sculpture math. Has it been achieved? But little by little by little we are getting there. Here I mention two simple cases which happened to move me especially deeply. They were using this high-tech and actively computational material as an expressive medium; the content came from their imaginations as freely as what the others expressed in soap.

But where a knife was used to shape the soap, mathematics was used here to shape the behavior of the snake and physics to figure out its structure. Fantasy and science and math were coming together, uneasily still, but pointing a way.

Some members of our group have other ideas: Rather than using a tiny computer, using even tinier logic gates and motors with gears may be fine. Well, we have to explore these routes 4. But what is important is the vision being pursued and the questions being asked. Which approach best melds science and fantasy? Which favors dreams and visions and sets off trains of good scientific and mathematical ideas? A fifth grader who was in his second year of working with LogoWriter was showing a spectacular sample of screen graphics he had programmed.

When asked how he did it, he explained that he had to figure angles and curvatures to obtain the greatest "grace. And he knew it, for he added with pride: I want to be a person who puts math and art together. Here again I hear answers to questions about taking down walls that too often separate imagination from mathematics.

This boy was appropriating mathematics in a deeply personal way. What can we do to encourage this? At the time of the Muzzey project in Lexington, Logo had not yet acquired the feature for which it is best known to most educators: It had no graphics, no Turtle. In fact, at Muzzey School there was no screen, only clanging teletype terminals connected to a distant "time-shared" computer. In fact, the origination of the Logo Turtle was inspired by the soap-sculpture image and a few others like it.

About 10 years later, I was working with Sherry Turkle 5 and John Berlow at the Lamplighter School in Dallas, TX, the first elementary school where there were enough computers for children to have almost free access to them. The first space shuttle was about to go up, and in the tension of waiting for it appeared in many representations on screens all over the school. But we noticed that although everyone had space ships they did not make them the same way.

Some programmed their space ships as if they had read a book on "structured programming," in the top-down style of work that proceeds through careful planning to organize the work and by making subprocedures for every part under the hierarchical control of a superprocedure.

The painter-programmer would put a red blob on the screen and call over her friends for it was more often, though not always, a girl to admire the shuttle.

After a while someone might say: "But its red, the shuttle is white. This and many other such incidents initiated an intense interest in differences in ways of doing things, and during the next few years 6 which means into the time when the work in this volume was starting , "style" was almost as much in the air as the "soap-sculpture.

These two key ideas set the stage for the evolution of constructionism. The simplest definition of constructionism evokes the idea of learning-by-making and this is what was taking place when the students worked on their soap sculptures.

But there is also a line of descent from the style idea. The metaphor of a painter I used in describing one of the styles of programmer observed at the Lamplighter school is developed in Chapter 9 by Turkle and Papert in two perspectives. One "bricolage" takes its starting point in strategies for the organization of work: The painter-programmer is guided by the work as it proceeds rather than staying with a pre-established plan.

The other takes off from a more subtle idea which we call "closeness to objects"--that is, some people prefer ways of thinking that keep them close to physical things, while others use abstract and formal means to distance themselves form concrete material. Both of these aspects of style are very relevant to the idea of constructionism. The example of children building a snake suggests ways of working in which those who like bricolage and staying close to the object can do as well as those who prefer a more analytic formal style.

Building and playing with castles of sand, families of dolls, houses of Lego, and collections of cards provide images of activities which are well rooted in contemporary cultures and which plausibly enter into learning processes that go beyond specific narrow skills.

I do not believe that anyone fully understands what gives these activities their quality of "learning-richness. The chapters in this book offer many constructions of new learning-rich activities with an attempt to reach that quality.

A conceptually simple case is the addition of new elements to LEGO construction kits and to the Logo microworlds, so that children can build more "active" models. For example, sensors, miniaturized computers that can run Logo programs, and motor controllers allow a child in principle to build a LEGO house with a programmable temperature control system; or to construct forms of artificial life and mobile models capable of seeking environmental conditions such as light or heat or of following or avoiding one another.

Experiments carried out so far still fall a little short of this idealized description, and, moreover, have been mounted systematically only in the artificial contexts of schools or science centers.

But it is perfectly plausible that further refinement of the components combined, be it noted for further discussion below, with suitable marketing might result in such "cybernetic" activities as we choose to call them , thus becoming as much part of the lives of young children as playing with toys and dolls, or other more passive construction kits. This vision advances the definition of constructionism and serves as an ideal case against which results that have been actually achieved can be judged.

In particular, it illustrates the sense of the opposition I like to formulate as constructionism vs. I do not mean to imply that construction kits see instruction as bad. That would be silly. The question at issue is on a different level: I am asking what kinds of innovation are liable to produce radical change in how children learn. Take mathematics as an extreme example. It seems obvious that as a society we are mathematical underperformers.

It is also obvious that instruction in mathematics is on the average very poor. But it does not follow that the route to better performance is necessarily the invention by researchers of more powerful and effective means of instruction with or without computers. The diffusion of cybernetic construction kits into the lives of children could in principle change the context of the learning of mathematics. Children might come to want to learn it because they would use it in building these models.

And if they did want to learn it they would, even if teaching were poor or possibly nonexistent. Moreover, since one of the reasons for poor teaching is that teachers do not enjoy teaching reluctant children, it is not implausible that teaching would become better as well as becoming less necessary. So changes in the opportunities for construction could in principle lead to deeper changes in the learning of mathematics than changes in knowledge about instruction or any amount of "teacher-proof" computer-aided instruction.

This vision is presented as a thought experiment to break the sense of necessary connection between improving learning and improving teaching. But many of its elements can be related to real experiments described in the book. Although most of the examples in the book use computers, some do not.


Robótica educativa #12 Seymour Papert y el construccionismo.



Seymour Papert


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