So being a nerd of course I wanted to be a game developer when I was little. I didn’t because I’ve decided I like chemistry better. Go figure. But I actually have several encounters with LOGO growing up. I don’t know if it still is, but LOGO was a very popular programming language to teach when I was a kid. It was taught to me on during two different summer school classes (it wasn’t as sinister as it sounded; it was really more of a “hobby class”, I also took classes in calligraphy and swimming, because I wanted to; I was a super nerd and my parents were cool like that). On both occasion I was UTTERLY bored by LOGO. Reading Papert’s vision with LOGO (which I learned, was partly created by him), and the fascinating simulated work of the two children in the end, I can really see the potential he was going with LOGO, but I didn’t experience that at all. I was given a set of instructions: type these commands in, and you’ll be able to draw a star. Okay.
So, obviously it wasn’t very engaging for me. Yes I could draw a star. Whoop-de-do. I can do the same thing on a piece of paper in less than 3 seconds. I didn’t see the point to it, nor do I saw what I did was “programming”. In eighth grade, we had a computer science class. My school then (it was a Canadian School located in Kowloon, Hong Kong, it’s complicated) was rather small and lacking in resource. So, in computer class, where we barely managed to have our own console (some less fortunate classes of other grades had to share). Here we are presented again with LOGO (along with BASIC, QBASIC to be exact), albeit with a better front end. I don’t remember the instruction I received from the teacher to be anymore engaging than the ones I’ve received previously, but because I was one of “those” student, I actually went to town on the help files and playing around with LOGO more so than I was required to do. This, however, I don’t think had anything to do with how LOGO as a programming language were differently structure than say, BASIC. Papert spent a good deal of time in his book chapter arguing that LOGO was fundamentally more encouraging to the “epistemological” development of the user than other languages like BASIC. But in my case, I was equally, and perhaps more engaged when I was using QBASIC than LOGO.
I don’t think Papert was wrong on anything, but perhaps he underestimate how the full spectrum of potential of LOGO can be quenched by teachers who didn’t understand the point of this particular programming language. I do find Papert’s faith in the abilities and creativities of children refreshing and hopeful. I don’t pretend to know a thing about human development or child psychology, so I will believe in Papert’s description of a child’s potential. I really like the simulation of the progress of two children using LOGO to draw flowers and birds. As this didn’t not happen to me I can’t speak for its plausibilities, but I am hopeful, with the hope that Papert has given me.