Edith Ackermann on Piaget, Papert and Vygotsky

EdithToday (thanks to Heidi Schelhowe at DIMEB) we had the chance to get into some details about the great three researchers – and their contribution to constructivism and constructionism – with Edith Ackermann (see image to the right), a Professor of Developmental Psychology (currently Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT). She presented her ideas about the three theoretical ideas of Piaget, Papert and Vygotsky and compared them by usig the metaphor of a caricature of „The Piaget-Child“, the „The Papert-Child“ and the „The Vygotsky-Child“.

The one lasting impression I got visiting the event was that imagination is a key element in all learning. So improving our capabilities on imagination cannot be wrong if we want to learn more, find out new things and innovate. This seems to be trivial news, but if you are honest, when did you imagine the last time how thing could be different? I especially was delighted, that she mentioned the special way, japanese culture has a metaphor for imagination. They call it „kobito“ or „little people“ which means, that whenever you imagine something, you „send out“ one or more representations of yourself (little persons) and try to get a different perspective on things. I really like this metaphor because this is actually a very successful way to get different perspectives on things, which is e.g. important in software engineering if you need to imagine many things on different levels of abstraction at the same time.

Edith is interested in the intersections between learning, teaching, design, and digital technologies. So it comes to no surprise, she has left some traces on the internet. E.g. at childresearch.net which hosted a project called Playshop. Child Research Net held this Playshop (actually a workshop) on November 28, 1999 called „Playshop 1999“ at Benesse Corporation in Tama City, Tokyo, Japan. More than 150 people, consisting of children, parents and educators, moved their whole bodies and used their imagination to engage in various activities. You can find transcripts of the workshop here. Find an even more interesting list of research papers about children and learning at the child-research-net-site, e.g. her latest paper there has the title ‚Playthings That Do Things: A Young Kid’s „Incredibles“!‚ and it is downloadable as PDF.

Add-on: I did some more research on the kobito-topic and found a really remarkable explanation from Yutaka Sayeki (Sayeki-sensei) which I found as a transcript of an E-Mail-Answer on the Internet which describes this method as kobito-dispatching:

Date: Fri, 22 Sep 95 10:33:10 JST
From: Ysayeki

Also interesting perhaps: Link to Japan Society for Educational Technology, Linkt to a book called Mind, Culture, and Activity.

Update 7.1.2009
Ein interessanter Foliensatz von Yutaka Saeki zum Thema „Wisdom and Human Beeings“ ist im Internet abrufbar. Dort stellt er auch ausführlicher die Methode des „Kobito Dispatching“ vor.