After I finished to reading “The Gears of My Childhood” by Seymour Papert, it made me think of what I learned from this article during my masters degree. In Thailand, this article is widely discussed especially among constructionists in Thailand.
From what Seymour had learned from gears, I had found liberation of thinking and learning. Observation of one’s interest becomes tacit knowledge of that person. New knowledge gets inside your mind and connects with one’s existing knowledge. This type of learning is such an individual process that one is the person who experience it and construct one’s own knowledge. Moreover, I’m impressed with the power of computer and I agreed that computer can help us see simulation and feedback very quickly. It speeds up the process of corrections.
However, in some cultures, especially in Thai conventional schools, the schools often make students insecure to explore and express what they think. This is a mindset that everything has only one correct answer. This instills the mindset in our students that being correct is good and mistakes are bad. If someone makes mistakes, the teacher will cross out the wrong answers with a red pen or will give a zero score. This makes students can’t learn from mistakes because they do not want to make any mistakes even on computer and eventually they become person who lack of confidence to try things on their own.
From my constructionism teaching experience, I’ve found each student connect, understand, and create their knowledge in different paths and also at different levels. It depends on their background experience, observation skills, and how well they can connect the new knowledge to old knowledge.
For me, the essential parts of learning are not only arranging hands-on learning experience for students, but also providing opportunity for students to make decisions on their own, to try things, and learn from mistakes. To me, those are the first step for students to gain confidence and feel comfortable enough to try things and construct their own knowledge.