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Constructionism is a philosophy of education in which children learn by doing and making in a public, guided, collaborative process including feedback from peers, not just from teachers. They explore and discover instead of being force fed information, or subjected to a regime of social control as in the Prussian system adopted in the US and elsewhere, sometimes called Instructionism. Constructionist guidance has to be informed by a knowledge of what there is to explore and discover, including our ignorance, and of a variety of approaches that can be used for children at different developmental levels with various degrees of preparation.

More on this topic can be found by exploring Google using keywords such as "constructionism", "education", "philosophy". See for instance openworldlearning, Seymour Papert's website, , and the wikipedia article on constructionist learning. Constructionism is implemented on the OLPC XO in the form of collaborative discovery.

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - Attributed to Confucius.

Constructionism is built on the foundation of Constructivism, the theory of childhood learning created by Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and many others.

History and Examples

Books and notes +/-

Alan Kay and his Squeak project have done a lot to make tools available to teachers who want to develop constructionist educational materials. Alan recently gave a keynote at EuroPython demonstrating how kids can learn constructively.

One of the great pioneers of the practice, long before the term, was University of Pittsburgh's sociologist Omar Khayyam Moore, who built his "Edison Talking Typewriter" to teach two-year olds to read and write simply by reinforcing aspects of their spontaneous behavior.

Prof. Howard Peelle of the Education School at the University of Massachusetts has written about his experiments with APL in elementary school. The idea is to let children play a game, then learn to make simple adjustments to game play, and progress to full programming. IBM once sponsored a program to support APL for a whole elementary school.

There does not appear to be a single Best Computer Language for elementary school students, though BASIC is popular. Python, APL, LISP, LOGO, Smalltalk, and many many others have also been used. It would be useful to bring the resulting knowledge together. It is clearly impossible to settle the question based only on the stated preferences of adults who don't know all of the languages concerned, that is through rwars. In any case, Python has been chosen by the OLPC to be the base language of the laptop. For an overview of various ways in which people have applied Python to education, check this link

Now that the XO laptops are in the hands of kids, why not see what they have to say? Go ask Rufus for instance. We will eventually read reports of the results from Nigeria and Peru and other countries, but for now, a little boy in England says it all quite eloquently.

See also