Make School more like Kindergarten – Mitchel Resnick [#lwf12 @mres]


“It is not enough just to imagine, you have to create.”

In many Kindergartens children are actively involved in designing and creating things that matter to them. They learn some specifics from this, but Resnick says what they learn that is most important is the creative process. Rather than simply imagining, they create, iterating with their creations and learning as they go.

As children move on, this exploratory style of learning often changes to a transmission model of teaching. Resnick sees that style of learning increasingly filtering down to Kindergartens; phonics and structured worksheets make it more like school. Resnick wants to reverse the process; make the rest of school more like Kindergarten.

So how do we achieve this? Resnick has been working on extending some of the construction tools which young children use. Lego has evolved to Mindstorms, which allows children to create machines which can inteact with each other.

However, the tools are only part of the story. Resnick shared some impressive projects in which older children had been empowered by their teachers to work on things that mattered to them, learning skills as they followed their big ideas.

As well as allowing young people to design things in the physical world, they need opportunities to build things in the virtual world. Enter Scratch, a tool which even young children can use to create multimedia projects and share them on a community site so they can learn from each other.

Sharing some examples of Mother’s Day animations which children had made with Scratch, Resnick expressed that it is not about becoming a professional programmer but providing a way for people to express themselves digitally.

He shared an amazing Scratch project by user flamespirit– a 12 year old who had created an interactive tool for creating your own warrior cat. Impressive in itself, but this project has also been downloaded and remixed by many other young people, prompting conversations about creative community and the sharing of ideas. A whole community of sharing and advice giving has built around this one project, with many young people making tutorials to help others to create and build their ideas.

Scratch provides the tools and the community to facilitate young people to think creatively, reason systematically to realise their creations, and work collaboratively with others. Resnick said for this to work in the classroom what we need is to shift the way people think about learning, and the way they think about technology.

We need to think about technologies not just as a way to deliver information and communicate, but to design and create, to experiment and explore.


Link to the introduction to Scratch for my Digital Literacy students.

Related posts:

Google: Supporting Education in the UK and Ireland - Andrew Elland [#lwf12 @andrewelland]
Systems & Empathy - Charles Leadbeater [@wethink #lwf12]
Ray Kurzweil on the inevitability of exponential change [#lwf12]

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