Solemn Prayers for Seymour Papert


Seymour Papert

Maybe unbeknownst to you, as much as I dismiss Nicholas Negroponte's expansive ego or Seymour Papert's "Constructionist" ideals, I do respect the men for their respective accomplishments.

And when I note on Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth that Papert was hit by a motorcycle in Hanoi and is now in a coma after undergoing emergency neurosurgery at French Hospital, I do feel great sadness.

May he soon regain his faculties and return to the One Laptop Per Child program. The OLPC implementation miracle needs him, now, more than ever.

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This is terrible news. I recently posed a number of questions to him about learning and the OLPC and had been impressed by his answers, to the point that it helped to assuage some of the fears I had about the role of the teacher in OLPC nations.

I hope he pulls through. My thoughts are with him and his family.

There's a long article on the accident and his condition at the Boston Globe

Wayan, what do you know about OLPC in Uruguay?

Two days ago was announced a national plan for giving a PC for every student and teacher in 2009

But today appeared this new in an argentinian newspaper
talking about intel giving for free 500 classmates to the argentinian government for contrasting with olpc in the test.

In the same new they gave the new about uruguayan plan ambiguously...

But today in this bulletin:
by first time was published that it gonna be done with OLPC laptop...

What news do you have?

It's very sad news.

David, could you please share the answers he gave to you?


You can find the transcript of Papert's talk here:

Prasanna: a post here about the webchat, in which he answered all three of my questions was due, but got put on the back burner (by me). The comment that struck me was one he took time to answer after the chat had finished as follows:

Q [davehat]: to your mind, does learning to use a computer share much of the same process as a child uses in learning to learn?

A: I believe that school is an unnatural way for learning. I believe that natural learning is what happens before school and after school. But there are many things that can't be learned in the environment of the home. School became necessary because some things are not imbedded in the culture of our daily lives so children cannot learn them.

The computer greatly expands what is in the culture of the child's life. What the computer does is to make it possible for natural learning, which really means learning without teaching, without being taught, to be extended [exposed] to a much greater range of knowledge. I think we see when kids learn by themselves, to use the computer and to play very complex games, and overcome technical problems, we see them exercising the same natural learning abilities that enable them to learn to speak, learn to get around their parents, find the way around the house and find the way around the parents et cetera, all the stuff they learn outside of school. That's the natural learning.

I agree completely with Davehat's suggestion when they learn the computer, they are able to exercise that natural learning skill. But the conditions of school forces them to use more artificial ways of learning. So the big impact of putting out more computers under the control of children is to promote learning, learning. We will promote the learning of being a better learner, and that's the most important skill in a rapidly-changing world.

Once upon a time, schools could hope that children would go into the world, knowing how to do what they were taught. In a rapidly-changing world, they have to go out, knowing how to do what they were not taught that is to say, that to go out was the skill of learning to do work and deal with situations that have never existed before.

"Learning, learning" is the ultimate slogan for education of the future.

Doctors have performed another surgery to relieve pressure on the brain of a retired Massachusetts Institute Of Technology professor who remained in a coma in Vietnam. Seymour Papert, an internationally known expert in technology and learning, was struck by a motorbike last week while crossing a busy street in Hanoi.

Papert was put in a medically induced coma to enable his brain to heal faster after an initial surgery last week. MIT Media Lab spokeswoman Alexandra Kahn said doctors are somewhat optimistic after Papert moved his limbs, indicating that he has some brain activity.

My thoughts and prayers for Seymour Papert and his nearest and dearest.
I'm intrigued by the amount of negativity surrounding olpc - am I being naive but when some of the world's greatest minds aim to improve the world isn't that a good idea?
Especially when they don't need me to fund it!
Maybe it won't solve the world's problems but I certainly don't see that allowing children a greater access to education and the www world is going to do a great deal of harm.
Perhaps, the major detractors would like to list what they did for the world recently...

Ihope he has a quick recovery and becomes that delightlfully active and wonderful person aganin soon. Now that the world is just beginning to realize the truth of his philosophy and starting to implement his ideas we need him around even more to guide us.

Just read the news of the accident and Papert being in a coma and am unable to express my distress. All my prayers are with him and all who hold him dear. I hope he recovers.
There was so much to learn from him. He has been a source of raising questions about the learning process in our minds. He has inspired so many of us teachers to think and to question and to repeatedly re-examine our practices from the perspective of the child's learning. And most of all to re-examine the institution of schooling as it exists.

Tran Van Thanh, who is in hospital for treatment, also faces charges of injuring last Thursday 78-year-old Professor Seymour Papert, a famous mathematician and computer scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was in Hanoi for a conference.

More updates on Seymour Papert, this time from InformationWeek:

"Seymour Papert, the MIT professor who was struck by a motorbike in Vietnam earlier this month, was in intensive care Tuesday in Massachusetts General Hospital after being airlifted from Hanoi."

Here is where the latest information about his condition can be found -

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