For Mitch Resnick, MIT’s Lego Papert Professor of Learning Research, the ideal scenario is one that places analytical thinking in the service of creative design. “So much of the education system is top-down,” says Resnick. “We need to give kids greater leeway to find their own path.”
At MIT, Resnick found a mentor in Seymour Papert, a legendary professor who in his earlier days had done pioneering work in artificial intelligence. In his later years, Papert pioneered a “constructionist” theory of education that emphasized hands-on, experiential learning rather than rote drills and memorization. Today, Scratch — a simplified, visually based coding language — represents a living lab for Papert’s hands-on ideals.
David Siegel supports the Scratch Foundation. “It’s not just about teaching children to code, or even about helping them to land better jobs in an increasingly digital economy,” says Siegel. “What’s at stake is more fundamental: determining how our youngest generation engages — or doesn’t — with the tech-saturated world around it.”
“Whether or not you are going to be a software engineer some day, for sure every person on this planet is going to be dependent on computers,” Siegel says. “It’s critical that we rise to the challenge of demystifying computer technology.”