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Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  414 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Mindstorms has two central themes: that children can learn to use computers in a masterful way and that learning to use computers can change the way they learn everything else. Even outside the classroom, Papert had a vision that the computer could be used just as casually and as personally for a diversity of purposes throughout a person’s entire life. Seymour Papert makes
Kindle Edition, 252 pages
Published August 3rd 1993 by Basic Books (first published 1980)
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Nov 26, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am in agreement with Papert's theories of child learning. In particular, while reading Chapter Two ("Mathophobia: The Fear of Learning"), I had to suppress the urge to open the windows and shout, "Yes, dammit! This!" to anyone who would listen.

You see, I was one of those kids who thought math just wasn't for them. I did fine when we were learning whole new subjects like geometry or algebra for the first time. But when things devolved into endless repetition and (seemingly) mindless rote work,
Anna Anthropy
Jun 24, 2012 Anna Anthropy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the irony of this book is that if seymour papert had his way, WE'D BE SEEING A LOT LESS PAPERT.

this book is about how a computer age can move away from the assembly-line model of teaching of american schools - in which typically memorization, not learning, happens - toward a learning environment in which children are actually allowed to learn and to direct their own learning. he uses as his example LOGO - the program where you type instructions to a turtle about how to move and draw a picture. h
MacRae Linton
Mar 18, 2013 MacRae Linton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really inspiring book about learning and teaching and computers. The author, Seymour Papert, invented LOGO and wrote this book about how he thinks we think and how we can learn to think better by building knowledge cumulatively.

He describes the mind as essentially a multitude of small rules that generally add to much more than we prune, or even modify. Understanding then is mostly a processes of apply old rules to new situations, and deciding which ones are useful in thinking about this new thi
Apr 24, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review is cross-posted from my personal site: Computers As Objects To Think With

Bret Victor wrote an essay in 2012 that left me desperately wishing I were a computer engineer. "Learnable Programming" was a critique of 1) Khan Academy's newly released intro course on programming, 2) the Processing language the course focused on, and 3) decades of stagnation in programming pedagogy. The essay was funny, visually stunning, provocative, and so convincing in its presentation of an effective foun
Jan Martinek
Aug 02, 2016 Jan Martinek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply wow. People, knowledge and learning and in a book on “recasting powerful ideas that are as important to the poet as to the engineer” in an environment that is made possible thanks to computers.

It's the possibility to tell the computer what to do, to program it, that makes the huge difference (most of its “users” don’t ever use the computer that way): you can create simple and complex worlds, watch them and learn from them in rapid feedback loops—while still being able to go the tiniest de
Andy Matuschak
This book provides persuasive explanations deriving what had only been intuitions for a great number of my long-held vague suspicions. Which is critical, of course, to building on these ideas: we can't compose or leap well without error correction, and an explanatory framework allows us the ready error-checking of emergent ideas which dogmatic belief does not.

Papert's epistemological ideas are radical but convincing: that derivational learning trumps the mechanical (for the reasons I describe ab
Lawrence Linnen
Aug 07, 2012 Lawrence Linnen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Papert created the computer language, LOGO, and discusses how the use of LOGO enhances problem solving and the learning of mathematics for children. He describes the book as "an exercise in an applied genetic epistemology expanded beyond Piaget’s cognitive emphasis to include a concern with the affective." In his studies he noticed how children who had learned to program computers could use concrete models to think about thinking and to learn about learning, enhancing their power as psychologist ...more
Jeremy Keeshin
Feb 07, 2013 Jeremy Keeshin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
A good book. I decided to read it from the programming essay by bret victor. At times a bit long-winded, but motivates the problem well. I'm truly blown away about when this book was written, because it seems very ahead of its time. Many things that seemed obvious to Papert then I think are much more obvious now, but still not all are realized. It is strangely more philosophical than I would have expected.
Filip Kis
Very interesting and educational. Even though a book is about programming language LOGO it's much more than that. It is a book on how computers can be used not only to revolutionize the education, but to improve how children learn. It is quite philosophical and I believe I'll need to read it couple of times more before I get the full grasp of it.

Highly recommended for passionate about education and/or math.
Feb 16, 2013 Finlay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The philosophy behind the LOGO programming language as a method for teaching mathematical thought to children -- I remember doing some of these exercises in Grade 3 or 4. Look up Bret Victor to see some very interesting contemporary programming tools/UI inspired by this work.
Educators, read this.
Dec 14, 2016 Mat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting insights, but ultimately fails to move beyond the premise introduced in the first few pages. Classic example of a non-fiction book that would have been a much more effective fifteen page article.
Oct 11, 2016 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tech, brain
Fuller-like optimism for the ability of computers to soften the boundaries between humanities and mathematics, to avoid "school math" planting the idea that "I don't have a head for math". How important it is that learning occurs by children constructing worlds inside their heads that they can relate to bodily experience and can manipulate themselves. An expansive view of what children can learn at an early age if given the concepts of procedure and system, and that debugging your thinking wins ...more
Dec 06, 2016 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made it to my wish list on account of a Bret Victor imperative, from one of his talks. It was not at all surprising, then, to find the story of a man so completely devoted to the question of how best to foster learning in others, something that has taken up so much of Victor's work, and which in turn I have found so inspirational.

Papert uses one of the great achievements of his career - the creation of the LOGO programming language, a tool designed for children to explore, and one I wa
Connor Osborn
Mar 19, 2016 Connor Osborn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seymour Papert's Mindstorms has a pervasive theme, that we must learn about ourselves in order to learn. Papert highlights that humans rely on intuition, and faulty theory building, that our knowledge is subjective and arbitrary[1] rather than a cascade of logic. Perhaps Papert's greatest revelation is the stark dissonance of modern curriculum directed learning and how humans naturally learn. Imagine a student that is not understanding a concept a midst a class that understands. This is an oppor ...more
Debbie Morrison
Sep 05, 2013 Debbie Morrison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas by Seymour Papert is a brilliant book. It’s as relevant today as it was when first published in 1980. Its applications to learning and teaching in 2013 are no less than startling. Mindstorms ranks in the top ten education books I’ve read. It describes not just how children develop intellectually, but frames the role that educational technology plays in teaching and learning.

In Mindstorms, Papert shares his experience and research with
Jim Robles
I read the 1993 edition. Professor Papert did fairly well with his technology predictions. He completely failed to grasp how unwilling Baby Boomer's are to fund anything that does not support their own retirement. He also failed to adequately account for how resistant the (p. 37 a sluggish and conservative system) teaching profession is to change.

The anthropology and psychology are very good. The question is what are we going to do with it.

The p. 36 discussion of first use of technology anticip
Joao Gomes
Aug 21, 2016 Joao Gomes is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Page 22: Seymour fala sobre a discalculia. Ás vezes você nao aprende matemática pela forma que o professor que te ensinar, mas não significa que você tem uma deficiência (é eu sei, é difícil acreditar, ainda mais crescendo no modelo que tivemos no Brasil). Ele dá o exemplo do surdo que não pode falar, mas isso não significa que ele não é capaz de se comunicar. O surdo pode contornar esse problema de comunicação por meio da linguagem de sinais. O mesmo com o estudante de matemática, ele pode cont ...more
David Lindelof
Dec 08, 2012 David Lindelof rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
This is the classic exposé by Seymour Papert, one of the fathers of the LOGO programming language for children, on how computers could revolutionise the teaching of mathematics.

He draws very heavily on ideas first put forth by Piaget, namely that children come with every learning capacity they will ever need; the challenge of educators is "just" to provide them with an environment where they can be motivate to learn mathematics by themselves. Computers, according to Papert, have the potential to
Nov 05, 2016 Katya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book explores different approaches for reconceptualizing learning. It shifts the focus on debugging and encourages not to fear mistakes, but recognize it as an intrinsic part of the learning process. Papert remains loyal to the Piagetian theory of cognitive development throughout the text (becoming quite superfluous at times). He pushes for learning that takes place as naturally as possible vs. through dissociated learning, which we are very accustomed to in the classroom. He argues that di ...more
Andre Stackhouse
I really liked this book when I started reading it. It speaks to experiences I think we all had in school, and it still paints a picture of a better way. That said, I feel like the author really made his case in the first couple chapters, and after a while I felt I was hearing the same argument over and over again in different ways. I'm sure it was revolutionary at the time, but today I think most of us find his arguments fairly obvious. He's a great writer and comes up with compelling examples, ...more
Phil Hagelberg
Jun 05, 2015 Phil Hagelberg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant in how it examines how children learn, and then takes that knowledge and uses it to construct an environment in which learning becomes natural. Excellent insight as well into the reasons conventional education currently works the way it does, which have a lot more to do with historical accident (having access to pen and paper and not much else) than a thorough understanding of how students learn best.
Mircea Lungu
only read half of the book and then forgot it at home in a trip to .ro. will review half of it for now.
- the theories are not empirically validated, but they make sense, at least with some children: they need to play and learn while they discover things on their own
- the most edifying part were the stories of children learning to program. one can see which are the difficulties and challenges. it's funny to see that children hate debugging, and would postpone it if possible :)
Feb 14, 2014 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting read, dealing with how to engage students in an active, interesting way of learning math and physics using LOGO. But you can ignore the technology to some degree if you're not interested that and see how the author has engaged students in active learning based largely upon Piagetian principles.
Apr 28, 2009 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look from 1980s into how computer programming can be used to help children connect to learning and learn by doing. It is somewhat sad how the great possibilities of technology has not been effectively integrated 25 years later. I did enjoy reading about how Papert thought technology would become ubiquitous in our lives ... which has largely come true.
Sep 11, 2016 Mouly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mouly by: Bret Victor programmable learning

* Computers can change how children, rather everyone, thinks and learns. Computers need not be just machines that does the thinking for us.

* The current math curriculum was developed based on the constraints of a pen and paper technology. A computer based math curriculum will be a more natural learning for children.
May 20, 2016 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A protégé of Piaget, Papert was one of the first to espouse the benefits of teaching though computer programming. He suggests learning through tinkering and approaching concepts in smaller "mindbites".
Jun 26, 2014 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
very powerful description of the education system, technology and coding. describes the issues entrenched in out school system concerning programming, math, science and writing and how that follows kids around later in life
Andrew Taylor
I read this as part of my Masters of Educational Technology program. Interesting ideas about computers and education. Even back in the 80's when Papert wrote this he saw the future benefit of using technology in education. Worth reading.
Jeremy Schubert
Sep 29, 2007 Jeremy Schubert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers and parents
A hard read. But (I think) one of the first authors who talks about computers as tools for improving the though patterns of children as opposed to authors writing about how the computer will change the classroom in terms of how assignments are given and completed etc...
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Educator Book Club: Computing, science and maths 2 30 Oct 26, 2014 04:18AM  
  • The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn
  • A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change
  • Teaching as a Subversive Activity
  • The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal
  • How Children Fail
  • The Art of the Metaobject Protocol
  • Introduction to Functional Programming
  • Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist
  • Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming
  • The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts
  • The Psychology of Computer Programming
  • Types and Programming Languages
  • The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education
  • Purely Functional Data Structures
  • Operating Systems Design and Implementation
  • The Annotated Turing: A Guided Tour Through Alan Turing's Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine
  • Working Effectively with Unit Tests
  • Computation: Finite and Infinite Machines (Automatic Computation)

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“The mathophobia endemic in contemporary culture blocks many people from learning anything they recognize as ‘math,’ although they may have no trouble with mathematical knowledge they do not perceive as such.” 0 likes
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