XP on OLPC - a contrarian view

Carol Lerche cafl at msbit.com
Sun May 18 15:11:34 EDT 2008

Research of interest is cited here:


On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 11:46 AM, Albert Cahalan <acahalan at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, May 17, 2008 at 6:28 AM, Martin Langhoff
> <martin.langhoff at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Sat, May 17, 2008 at 9:34 PM, Albert Cahalan <acahalan at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >> Reason: it's not at all related to laptop computers
> >> Fact: it's not universally valued by teachers
> >
> > This *is* a project pushing the envelope. Waiting for universal
> > consensus is aiming for the lowest common denominator.
> >
> >> Constructionism might be a great idea. I have doubts, particularly
> >> in a classroom with 40 students and a below-average teacher.
> >> (remember, about half of the teachers are below-average)
> >
> > Stop here, and please _read_ on constructionism. (Hint: most of the
> > tricks have to do with what happens _without the teacher around_).
> I've tried. I'm not going to go get a degree studying it.
> From what I can tell, constructionism (c13m) is a buzzword that
> vaguely refers to an age-old teaching practice: learning by doing.
> The idea appears to be extremely old, though not the norm. Ditching
> the buzzword would be appreciated; it only serves to obfuscate.
> From what I can tell, c13m is an awful lot like unschooling.
> Perhaps you can explain the difference.
> FYI, what happens _without the teacher around_ is probably not
> what the adults would like. Kids play games, fight, view porn,
> vandalize things...
> It's been 28 years since the Mindstorms book. If the idea still
> hasn't caught on, there must be a reason. The teachers have decided.
> Normal teachers will thwart any effort to change teaching.
> Tying the success of a laptop program to massive changes in
> teacher behavior is not right.
> >> In any case, you simply don't need laptop computers for this.
> >> It's a matter of teaching style; you need to teach teachers.
> >
> > Not focus on the teachers necesarily. Provide the kids with
> > interesting, self paced puzzles of increasing complexity. Give them
> > tools to explore collaboratively. Give them interesting reading
> > materials.
> >
> > That's what the XO+Linux+Sugar bring.
> Given a choice, most kids will play some far less useful game.
> You seem to think kids will teach themselves. The very brightest
> ones might do that, driven by their curiosity. Most will not.
> >> I'm sure. Researchers tend to get the results they desire.
> >
> > And you will brush off evidence you don't like? I have higher
> > expectations than that for discussion on devel@
> I probably can not verify that the researchers used teachers
> who were disinterested or even actively opposed to any change.
> I probably can not verify that lots of below-average students
> were included in the mix. I probably can not verify that the
> classroom sizes were large.
> >> Software freedom does however require some kind of hardware.
> >
> > Software freedom - also close to my heart - does become interesting
> > if we can get kids into learning about the sw. Missing a super-hacker
> > as a teacher, they'll have to explore, learn and share.  Social
> > constructivism is the name we tend to give these days to that dynamic.
> According to wikipedia, "social constructivism" is something else.
> I think you mean "constructionist learning". (not that either is
> all that clearly defined)
> > In other words: play to the kids natural curiosity and share/compete
> > instincts and they'll learn on their own.
> >
> > Now, if your interest in education goes as far as flashcards, don't
> > worry, focus on helping us with the sw, and let others thing about
> > education.
> I can imagine myself providing content for a math program.
> I made a kid go from struggling with multi-digit addition and
> subtraction to dealing with simple calculus in 3 months.
> Doing math on paper is probably easier than with a keyboard
> though, and there is the problem of needing a human to look
> over the child's work.
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"Always do right," said Mark Twain. "This will gratify some people and
astonish the rest."
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