Thursday, October 25, 2007

kusasa ("tomorrow"): a solution to the maths/science education crisis

I've recovered from my initial excitement and have read every word carefully on the kusasa site(Capetown, South Africa) and pretty much agree with their whole approach to using computers for maths and science education

It seems similar to what is being done in Extremadura, a poor rural region of Spain (video link)

The philosophy is pure Papert: maths-land, hard play, tap into personal interests, build models of objects to think with, using computers to explore, discover and learn

Maths and Science ought to be learnt in the way it has developed historically. Humans wanted to build things and predict things. In doing this they gradually learnt maths and science. The abstraction came later.

The software is squeak etoys for years 4-9 and python for years 10-12

There are some great quotes about the importance of play on the How > Interests page sidebar:
"Play is the highest form of research."
Albert Einstein

"Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play."

"In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior. In play it is as though he were a head taller than himself."
Lev Vygotsky

"The very existence of youth is due in part to the necessity for play; the animal does not play because he is young, he has a period of youth because he must play."
Karl Groos

"Almost all creativity involves purposeful play."
Abraham Maslow

"Play is our brain's favorite way of learning."
Diane Ackerman

I like the Why? section the best, it goes into Challenges, Changes and Opportunities

Challenges: We are facing a crisis in maths/science education in many countries. Many students find it tedious and boring. In recent times education has become confused with entertainment, the demarcation is not clear.

Changes: A series of slides comparing 1907 with 2007 demonstrates how little School has changed compared with the car, the aeroplane, music and communications.

Opportunity: The plummeting cost of powerful computers opens up new opportunities to dynamically model concepts in a variety of learning areas.

1 comment:

shenki said...

A photo of "Play is the highest form of research", at The Tech Msueum of Innovation, San Jose.