Why I won’t buy an iPad-Maker Manifesto…

Infantalizing hardware

Then there’s the device itself: clearly there’s a lot of thoughtfulness and smarts that went into the design. But there’s also a palpable contempt for the owner. I believe — really believe — in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws not glue. The original Apple ][+ came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who upended the world for the better. If you wanted your kid to grow up to be a confident, entrepreneurial, and firmly in the camp that believes that you should forever be rearranging the world to make it better, you bought her an Apple ][+.

But with the iPad, it seems like Apple’s model customer is that same stupid stereotype of a technophobic, timid, scatterbrained mother as appears in a billion renditions of “that’s too complicated for my mom” listen to the pundits extol the virtues of the iPad and time how long it takes for them to explain that here, finally, is something that isn’t too complicated for their poor old mothers.

via Why I won’t buy an iPad and think you shouldn’t, either – Boing Boing. Continue reading

21st Century “Mind Tools”: Pedagogical Advantages of Programmable Robots

Image14 * Probot Racer Robot

“Programmable robots  can serve as the basis of a powerful problem-solving curriculum that will help young children develop the habit of creative, independent problem-solving while introducing them to the key technologies of the modern Information Age.”

  • add LINK: Not all robots are created equal: See “How to Choose the Right Robot” (or, “How to Tell If Your Robotics program is bogus”)


update this to match the latest pdf, 2017 Pedagogical Advantages of Programmable Robots-it’s not about the (specific) robot. © 2003-2021 TE Donahue

The Pedagogical Advantages of Programmable Robots

  • Programmable Robots-on-wheels encourage children to work with their hands and their minds to move through and manipulate their environment.

“The hand is the instrument of the intellect.” — Maria Montessori

As With All Well-designed Manipulatives:

  • Programmable Robots provide a medium through which to explore the world.
  • Programmable Robots allow for meaningful play (closely related to creativity): play that reveals to children the secrets of their environment.
  • Programmable Robots provide a material path to abstraction: i.e., a material, or concrete, way for children to model abstract concepts like length, angle, or negative vs. positive numbers.

Unlike Inert, Passive, Show-&-Tell Manipulatives:
(And many electronic games, toys, and computer “educational” software)

  • Programmable Robots are multi-use: exploration, modeling, and problem-solving tools.
  • Programmable Robots are not limited to rigid or prescribed (pre-programmed) uses or behaviors: children can explore their environment creatively, testing and refining their concepts of it as they go.
  • Programmable Robots allow children to think creatively about the solutions to a large variety of inherently interesting problems, and to easily and immediately test their possible solutions.
  • The Robot’s behaviors are transparent, not mysterious like the “black boxes” (software games driven by invisible code, electronic devices with invisible pre-programmed circuits) that children are handed to play with or “learn” from but which they do not understand. A Programmable Robot’s behaviors are the direct result of the children’s actions.

“Whatever I cannot recreate for myself I do not understand.”
— Richard Feynmann, Nobel Laureate in Physics

Dramatic & Interactive • Early Learning Advantage • Gets Kids “In the Game”
Programmable Robots get all children writing code and seeing computers as tools, not toys or entertainment devices.

  • Children can identify with their Robots, anthropomorphizing them and putting themselves in their robot’s “shoes” to visualize movement in space: a powerful problem solving technique.
  • This dramatic aspect of the Robots makes possible another powerful learning tool: the idea of the Robot as the children’s student. Children learn by “teaching” their Robot to solve Project-Challenges.

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