Marvin Minsky and understanding things in more than one way
Marvin Minsky died last month. I never met Marvin. I met his daughter, and worked with people who knew him well. He must have been a remarkable person.
The NYTimes piece has several quotes from Alan Kay about Marvin. Below is my favorite. I’ve heard it before, and I think about it often when designing classes and lessons.
I want students to understand what I do in class, but not memorize it. I want them to understand it in more than one way. It’s why I emphasize revision and multiple iterations so often in a class. I want them to understand well enough to transfer the knowledge, at least in near contexts.
For Dr. Kay, Professor Minsky’s legacy was his insatiable curiosity. “He used to say, ‘You don’t really understand something if you only understand it one way,’” Dr. Kay said. “He never thought he had anything completely done.”