Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World

By Yasmin Kafai; Mitchel Resnick | Go to book overview

11
"They Have Their Own Thoughts"1

A Story of Constructionist Leaming in an Alternative African-Centered Community School

Paula K. Hooper


INTRODUCTION

Many children of color learn from an early age that there are doubts concerning their capacity to develop intellectually. Messages communicated from school (low ability placements in the primary grade), from peers (pervasive anti-intellectualism in their peer group), and the media (expectations of inferiority) all serve to impress upon them that they may not be up to the task of advanced studies. The lack of confidence engendered by the internalization of these messages shapes the meaning of any failure ("I guess this proves I'm not that smart") and undermines the capacity to work ("Why bang my head against the wall if I'm unable to learn the stuff anyway?") ( Moses, 1989, p. 437).

Constructionism . . . has as its main feature the fact that it looks more closely than other educational -isms at the idea of mental construction. It attaches special importance to the role of constructions in the world as a support for those in the head, thereby becoming less of a purely mentalist doctrine. It also takes the idea of constructing in the head more seriously by recognizing more than one kind of construction and by asking questions about the materials used ( Papert, 1993 p. 143).

In the passage quoted at the beginning of this chapter, Bob Moses describes how many school experiences convey messages of intellectual inability to children of color. He creates a very different type of school environment in order to counteract these messages, one that engenders confidence in children of color. His

____________________
1
The title is taken from the song, On Children, as sung by "Sweet Honey in the Rock" with lyrics from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran ( Good News, 1981. Chicago: Flying Fish Records, Inc.).

-241-

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Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Contributors xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Acknowledgments 8
  • Part I - Perspectives in Constructionism 8a
  • 1 - A Word for Learning 9
  • References 24
  • 2 - Perspective-Taking and Object Construction 25
  • Conclusion 32
  • Acknowledgments 34
  • References 34
  • 3 - Elementary School Children's Images of Science 37
  • Introduction 37
  • Conclusions 62
  • Acknowledgments 64
  • Acknowledgments 65
  • Appendix B - Image of Science Interview Guideline 65
  • Part II - Learning Through Design 70a
  • 4 - Learning Design by Making Games Children's Development of Design Strategies in the Creation of a Complex Computational Artifact 71
  • Conclusion 93
  • Acknowledgments 94
  • References 94
  • 5 - Electronic Play Worlds 97
  • Conclusions 119
  • Acknowledgments 121
  • References 121
  • 6 - The Art of Design 125
  • Foreword 125
  • References 158
  • 7 - Building and Learning with Programmable Bricks 161
  • Introduction 161
  • References 172
  • Part III - Learning in Communities *
  • 8 - Social Constructionism and the Inner City Designing Environments for Social Development and Urban Renewal 175
  • Introduction 175
  • Acknowledgments 204
  • Appendix - Statistical Data About the Four Corners Neighborhood 204
  • References 205
  • 9 - The MediaMOO Project Constructionism and Professional Community 207
  • Conclusion - Constructionism and Virtual Reality 220
  • Acknowledgments 221
  • References 221
  • 10 - A Community of Designers Learning Through Exchanging Questions and Answers 223
  • Introduction 223
  • References 239
  • 11 - They Have Their Own Thoughts 241
  • Introduction 241
  • Conclusion 251
  • Acknowledgments 252
  • References 253
  • Part IV - Learning About Systems 254a
  • 12 - New Paradigms for Computing, New Paradigms for Thinking 255
  • Introduction 255
  • Acknowledgments 266
  • References 267
  • 13 - Making Sense of Probability Through Paradox and Programming A Case Study in a Connected Mathematics Framework 269
  • Introduction 269
  • Concluding Remarks 290
  • Acknowledgments 292
  • References 293
  • 14 - Ideal and Real Systems 297
  • Introduction 297
  • Analysis and Conclusions 318
  • Acknowledgments 322
  • References 322
  • Author Index 323
  • Subject Index 329
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