Professor Mitchel Resnick on the kindergarten style of education, creative learning spiral, and challenges of managing the classroom
What is the most important ability in the modern world? Are there any advantages of the kindergarten style of learning? Why do educational systems of schools and kindergartens differ so much? These and other questions are answered by LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research Mitchel Resnick.
I think, kindergarten gets people right to a good start as creative thinkers. If you think about the traditional kindergarten, kids spend a lot of time in kindergarten playfully creating things in collaboration with one another. They build towers out of blocks, they create pictures with finger paints and crayons. In the process they learn a lot. When they build with blocks they learn about stability, what makes things stand up or fall down, when they make pictures with crayons and finger paints they learn how colors mix together. But maybe even more importantly, they learn about the creative process, they learn how to start with an idea, explore the idea and follow it through and continue to develop a project based on a creative idea.
Here I work at the MIT Media Lab, we use that same process in our own work. When we’re developing new technologies in my research group we go through that same creative learning spiral. We imagine new ideas, we build prototypes, we try them out with others, we get feedback from other people, we reflect on our own experiments and the feedback and that sparks new idea and we go around that spiral over and over. And I think that’s what makes the Media Lab such a creative innovative place because our approach is like kindergarten. Now, of course we use different technologies than in kindergarten, we use laser cutters and microcontrollers, not just crayons and finger paints and wooden blocks, but the process is the same.
We had a workshop where we gave these robotics kits to children, and children were from 10 to 13 years old, and one child built an automated house for her pet hamster, so the door would open automatically every time the hamster went inside and out. In the process she learned about sensing and control, but she was interested in it and she work hard on it because she really cared about her pet hamster. Another girl at the same workshop loved to rollerblade. She put a sensor into the rollerblades to keep track of how fast she was going and how far she was going. So she was using sensors in a very different way than the hamster house, but it was connected to her own interest.