BBN Laboratories, Inc.
Education ought to be directed to helping young people make an informed commitment to life and work by helping them learn who they are and what they might become. As well as imparting a base of fundamental knowledge and building a foundation for learning in the major subjects -- the arts, sciences, history, language, and mathematics -- education, ought to have another goal, one that is orthogonal to this, and of comparable importance. We should help children make a serious commitment to becoming good at something they have to work at, that takes time, and that requires a significant investment of thinking. We ought to help students acquire a practice. We would like them to become active practitioners in some discipline area, however narrow, and we would like them to share their development with others. We'd like to bring the culture of practitioners into the classroom. The burden of this chapter is to suggest how information technology might contribute to this purpose.
Our thesis is that computers can make real contributions to education in at least two ways. The first is propadeutic. Computers can be used to create highly motivating learning environments that help students acquire early the habits of serious thought and work so necessary for intellectual development. This can be accomplished in part through playful activities. The work of children