Building a smarter computing culture in Fargo, ND
Weslery Fryer, a K-12 educational consultant, wrote an inspired post about OLPC after reading a story about Negroponte in a Rotarian magazine. A couple of key quotation; Negroponte in the block quote. Long, but the original post is lengthy.
We need to be helping our own children and the children in our schools learn to write and create computer programs with free software like Scratch and Squeak. I don’t care that this activity isn’t in the “state standards” in Oklahoma or most likely the rest of the states in our nation. We need to do it not because a committee legislated it as a mandate, but because this is the RIGHT thing to do. Negroponte addressed this need in this March 2010 article, stating:
OLPC was officially created in 2005, but we didn’t wake up in 2005 and decide to build a $100 laptop. Seymour Papert’s theories about children and learning were developed after he worked with Jean Piaget in Geneva. Papert came to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and started to work at what he called “teaching children how to think.” He realized that if children could write computer programs, the act of writing a program was the closest they could come to learning about learning itself. That’s true, because when you write a program, it never works the first time. You have to debug it. Papert’s position was that the act of debugging was learning about the learning process.
… snip …
Do we care about our kids and their learning, or are we still willing to believe the hypnotic swan song of ignorant and ill-informed politicians who are driving our public education system off a cliff to oblivion? For those who continue to make the ridiculous claim, “We can afford it,” I point them to Negroponte’s words in this article:
… Here [in the United States] we spend thousands of dollars per child per year on primary education. When you spend that amount and you add or subtract a laptop, it’s economically insignificant. It’s also sort of an accessory to a big educational machine, whether you think it’s working well or not. When you go to a country that is only spending $100 a year per child, to spend $20 or $30 of that on a connected laptop on a prorated, yearly basis is a huge difference. Rwanda this year alone is spending 20 percent of its education budget on laptops – OLPC computers, it turns out.
Bring on the learning revolution, and bring on the laptops. Can we please elect some state and national leaders who clearly understand these needs, and have the courage to ACT in the interests of our children?