Questions on Mindstorms

Really quickly, just so I have a record of what I’m wondering after finishing Mindstorms:

  1. What exactly are “powerful ideas”?
  2. How can Papert’s ideas be applied to areas other than math and physics? This includes rethinking and revamping them. I have some trouble envisioning that.
  3. Why has so little changed since Papert wrote this in 1980? It seems a lot of what he warned against came true.
  4. What would an entire society based on Papert’s educational ideas look like?
  5. As computing has become more complicated, the programming aspect has become less and less visible. This makes it harder to apply Papert’s ideas about programming, but is teaching programming the goal? How else can we take advantage of computing to advance “powerful ideas”?
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2 Responses to “Questions on Mindstorms”


  1. 1 amstrack February 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    I’ll add my lingering questions here too:
    It seems that the children in the text were spending all or at least a very substantial amount of time in turtle land, would this really be as effective in mainstream classrooms where only a single 40 minute period a day was spent with the turtles?
    While the turtle may be a great tool to think with, how well does this experience transfer to high-stakes testing that is used to assess students and teachers?

  2. 2 verilytan February 19, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I am kind of confused about the powerful ideas too – I thought it had to do with specific domain specific ideas that can be represented in computational form (e.g., p.51). But descriptions in other parts of the book are less clear. Would appreciate some discussion on this.

  3. 3 verilytan February 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I also have another question about Papert. The notion of powerful ideas and microworlds – I can understand the description for Math and Physics, but I was wondering how they can be applied to other domains? Scratch is an extension of the MIT lab, but does it make use of the notion of powerful ideas? I cannot really conceptualize it.
    I do see the power of what Papert is discussing – in Science especially because I learned it the abstract way. The part where he discusses the lack of people who can think of these powerful ideas and create microworlds is to me, a problem. Do we have more examples of people who do so?


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