Last week our class discussion covered the topic of simulation as a tool for learning and inquiry. Oddly enough, one of the assigned readings for this week [Yearners and Learners] made mention of Logo. Logo is a simulation software program that first appeared around the late 60s, and it served as the impetus of contemporary programs like NetLogo. Papert, the author of Yearners and Learners, saw the value of using computational computer programs to create a lived-learning experience. Now, this is what some would refer to as “initial learning” or the simplification of complex theories. A point I stressed in the discussion is that simulation can in no way address our full reality, and Papert also makes this point.
There was a clear split on how we view simulation in relation to the real world. Some class members were concerned that the creation of an artificial world might replace our current collective reality, while others were able to provide examples of how we use simulation to address our needs (e.g. product production). After reading the excerpt from Papert’s text, I can liken our class discussion to the author’s description of Yearners (revolutionaries) and Schoolers (traditionalists). There are those of us that yearn for an immediate revolution in the way we learn, and there are those who are more comfortable with traditional forms of learning. I do not think that taking an absolute position on either side of the fence is the best approach. In fact, I think doing so contributes to the inertial condition touched on by Papert. Yet, that is what we typically find ourselves doing when major change comes into the frame. Who typically loses in a School of absolutes are the students.
I say all of this to get to one salient point. I hope that we can find some middle ground between traditional and non-traditional forms of learning. Doing so will create a pathway for students to advance beyond our static frames.