Report from Constructionism 2014 – Day 1

Mitchel Resnick began with a talk about the four P’s of creative learning: projects, peers, passion, and play. He argued that students should be encouraged to choose their own projects that they are passionate about. He is worried that too much emphasis is placed on puzzle solving and less about being creative and expressive. His Scratch project is succeeding exceedingly well in the ‘peer’ dimension (6 million projects uploaded, 1.5 million comments per month). The web site has areas where the more advanced children help others (and are trained to support others instead of simply giving them complete answers). He argued against gamification except where it is peer-to-peer (e.g. ‘likes’ and ‘favourites’). He praised a book call Drive about the short-term benefits and long-term costs of gamification.

Edith Ackermann talked about the role of humour in creativity and argued that the playfulness that is important in learning and creativity (and doing science?)  is more than the process of tinkering — it includes fantasy, whimsy, and humour.

Karen Brennan talked about constructionism in the classroom and how to avoid technocentrism. Many teachers worry that they need to be experts on every aspect of a programming language before they can begin teaching it.

In the panel discussion there was a good deal of concern that the educational establishment is taking constructionist tools (e.g. Scratch or NetLogo) and using them in instructionalist teaching. Though several people thought this was OK so long as there was a balance between instruction and construction.

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