The Works of Dr. Seymour Papert
Dr. Seymour Papert was born on February 29, 1928 in Pretoria, South Africa (Goldberg, 1991). However, another date was also identified as Papert’s birthdate, and this was March 1st of the same year and at the same birthplace (Stager, 2007). Papert received his bachelor’s degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1949, and his doctoral degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University in 1959 (Stager, 2007). Papert is identified as the founder of the LOGO programming language, and has been an instrumental player in the establishment of computers in schools and learning (Goldberg, 1991). Papert’s early career accomplishments included working (a) as a researcher in different prestigious universities, and at the National Physical Laboratory; (b) as a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1963; (c) as a professor of applied math and director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory until 1991; and, (d) as a Cecil & Ida Green professor of education at MIT until 1981 (Stager, 2007).
The contributions of Papert is well recognized and highly respected in different parts of the world (One Laptop Per Child, 2012). Papert is acknowledged for his creation of the Epistemology and Learning Research Group, later on to become the MIT Media Lab, that provide a multitude of opportunities for individuals to create innovative projects, including musical instruments, social networking software, to name a few (MIT Media Lab, 2012). Likewise, this research group desires to help children to grow up as creative thinkers, where constant inventions of new opportunities are developed to benefit not only themselves, but as well as the respective communities (MIT Media Lab, 2012). Eventually, this idea cultivated into the conception of constructionism that involved the development of an original and highly influential theory based on the work of Jean Piaget regarding Constructivism learning theories (MIT Media Lab, 2012).
The development of the Logo programming language is another acknowledgement of Papert’s constructivist and creative thinking (Stager, 2007). Logo programming is based on the dialect of the Lisp language and was originally written as a functional programming language (Stager, 2007). Likewise, this programming language is used in education, which taught learners how to develop code using design concepts, mathematical data analysis and interpretation, and syntax to create graphics (Stager, 2007). A robot called “Logo Turtle” was part of the Logo programming language that served as a guide for learners to use in solving problems (Stager, 2007). Papert’s goal in developing this programming language is to provide a program for students to strengthen their ability to learn knowledge, think analytically and critically through a mathematical language, and to develop their abilities as potential expert users (Stager, 2007).
Papert’s other well-acknowledge contributions included the concept of the Knowledge Machine that may be interpreted as a virtual reality simulation for knowledge representation and reasoning within an artificial intelligence; the One Laptop Per Child initiative that manufactured and distributed laptops with Internet access in different developing nations; and, the Lego Mindstorms where Papert was a collaborator in the development of Logo-programming robotics kits (Stager, 2007). Papert’s innovative and creative thinking has garnered different awards, including the Guggenheim fellowship (1980), Marconi International fellowship (1981), Software Publishers Association Lifetime Achievement Award (1994), and Smithsonian Award from Computerworld (1997) (Stager, 2007). Papert’s renowned contributions in the field of education and computer science continue to influence and to be instrumental in future developments of technology integration through constructivism, innovation, and creating thinking (The Daily Papert, 2012).
The Works of Individuals Inspired by Dr. Seymour Papert
The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation is one of the many significant and well-recognized works of Dr. Seymour Papert (The Daily Papert, 2012). This foundation established the one-to-one computing among different students who live in developing nations (The Daily Papert, 2012). The purpose of the OLPC Foundation is to provide each child from a developing country with a rugged, low-cost, low power, and Internet connected laptop (One Laptop Per Child, 2012). Hundreds and thousands of children from Rwanda, Nicaragua, Madagascar, Paraguay, India, Gaza and Ramallah, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kenya, Peru, Philippines, and Uruguay are inspired by the benefits of Papert’s works of wisdom, constructivism, innovation, and creativity to be develop and obtain learning knowledge using technology (One Laptop Per Child, 2012). For instance, students from Rwanda utilized the XO laptops to obtain universal access to the web, which opened doors for telecom giants to roll out connectivity across the country (One Laptop Per Child, 2012). The successful deployment in Rwanda was then repeated in other developing countries, which enabled more accessibility for children to learn beyond the four walls of a classroom, think beyond what books and pencils can provide in quality teaching and student learning, and produce creative and innovative individuals as part of continuing a global world of communication and collaboration (One Laptop Per Child, 2012).
Papert’s inspirational goals in his academic and professional backgrounds have influenced the individuals behind the foundation, itself, to take the initiative in building possibilities for children in developing countries to be connected to the world through communication and collaboration using technology (One Laptop Per Child, 2012). His influence also extended to other well-known organizations in today’s technology driven world, namely the founding members: AMD, Brightstar, eBay, Google, Marvell, Nortel, Quanta, Red Hat, and SES Astra (One Laptop Per Child, 2012). These founding members continue to be inspired by the goals and works of Papert in creating technologies that will be instrumental in furthering growth and development for a better, and brighter future for humankind (One Laptop Per Child, 2012). For instance, Google is a well-known organization that established the importance of obtaining and deploying worldwide web presence whether it is to be used for personal, educational, or organizational purposes (Google, 2012). This includes (a) the establishment of easy and immediate communication through video conferencing (i.e. Skype), social networking (i.e. Google +), online chats (i.e. Google Talk), electronic email system (i.e. Google Mail), etc.; (b) the collaboration among peers and colleagues through social networking (i.e. Google +), online creation and development of documents (i.e. Google Docs), and visualization using online interactive maps (i.e. Google Earth); and, (c) the development of innovative apps and tools that highly encourages students to think critically and creatively (i.e. Google Apps) (Google, Inc., 2012).
As technology continue to progress in a fast pace in today’s world, it is important for education to keep pace in order to provide its students with the learning knowledge and skills to adapt and flourish in a highly demanding and global society (Stager, 2000). Papert is adamant in advocating the deployment and use of connected laptops to children all over the world to ensure equality and equity in receiving quality and relevant learning knowledge and skills that would not only benefit themselves, but will have a greater and more immediate effect in a world that is shared by humankind (Stager, 2000).
Goldberg, M. F. (1991). Portrait of Seymour Papert. Educational Leadership, 48(7), 68-70.
Google, Inc. (2012). Google in education. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/edu/
MIT Media Lab. (2012). Lifelong kindergarten. Retrieved from http://llk.media.mit.edu/
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). (2012). One laptop per child. Retrieved from http://one.laptop.org/stories
Stager, G. (Producer). (2000). Seymour Papert at Bates College. [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/9106174
Stager, G. (2007). The history of Mr. Papert by Martin Boyle. Retrieved from http://www.stager.org/omaet2004/papertbio.html
The Daily Papert. (2012). Daily Papert words and wisdom of Dr. Seymour Papert. Retrieved from http://dailypapert.com/?page_id=34
Educational Leader. Advocate of Equality and Equity in Education. Photographer. Graphic Designer. Web Developer. Digital Artist. Technology is my medium for creative and artistic expression.