This book teaches about how computers are tools to aid thinking.
"Slowly I began to formulate what I still consider the fundamental fact about learning: anything is easy if you can assimilate it to your collection of models. If you can't, anything can be painfully difficult."
"Thus this book is really about how a culture, a way of thinking, an idea comes to inhabit a young mind."
I think the best way to understand learning is first to understand specific, well-chosen cases and then to worry afterward about how to generalize from this understanding. You can't think seriously about thinking without thinking about thinking about something."
The central role of the Turtle in this book should not be taken to mean that I propose it as a panacea for all educational problems. I see it s a valuable education object, but its principal role here is to serve as a model for other objects, yet to invented. My interest is in the process of invention of "objects-to-think-with," objects in which there is an intersection of cultural presence, embedded knowledge, and the possibility for personal identification.
"Without the incentive or the materials to build powerful, concrete ways to think about problems involving systematicity, children are forced to approach such problems in a groping, abstract fashion.
I began to see how children who had learned to program computers could use very concrete computer models to think about thinking and to learn about learning ad in doing so, enhance their powers as psychologists and as epistemologists. For example, many children are held back in their learning because they have a model of learning in which you have either :got it or :got it wrong." But when you learn to program a computer you almost never get it right the first time. Learning to be a master programmer is learning to become highly skilled at isolating and correcting "bugs," the parts that keep the program from working. The question to ask about the program is not whether it is right or wrong, but if it is fixable. If this way of looking at intellectual products were generalized to how the larger culture thinks about knowledge and its acquisition, we all might be less intimidated by our fears of "being wrong." This potential influence of the computer on changing our notion of a black and white version of our successes and failures is an example of using the computer as an "object-to-think-with." It is obviously not necessary to work with computers in order to acquire good strategies for learning. Surely "debugging" strategies were developed by successful learners long before computers existed. But thinkng about learning by analogy with developing a program is a powerful and accessible way to get started on becoming more articulate about one's debugging strategies and more deliberate about improving them.
The educator must be an anthropologist. The educator as anthropologist must work to understand which cultural materials are relevant to intellectual development. Then, he or she needs to understand which trends are taking place in the culture. Meaningful intervention must take the form of working with these trends.
First use Bias:
The first use of the new technology is quite naturally to do in a slightly different way what had been done before without it. It usually takes a whole generation before society is ready to move on to the real innovative way of thinking.
The conservation of volume is so obvious that is seems not to have occurred to anyone before Piaget that children of four might not fin it obvious at all. A substantial intellectual growth is needed before children develop the "conservationist" view of the world. The conservation of volume is only one of many conservations they all learn.