Seymour Papert has died and leaves a lasting legacy

August 1, 2016 at 10:30 am 4 comments

We have now lost both Seymour and Marvin Minsky this year.

I met Seymour a few times, and heard him speak at several Logo conferences and at Alan Kay’s Apple Hill camps (and even contra danced next to him once!).  Probably the most frightening meeting was when, as a PhD student, I sat next to Seymour at dinner, and he challenged my dissertation ideas for over an hour.  At the time, one of the directions that I was exploring was the interaction of learning styles and how that might influence how we learn programming. (Yes, I was a learning styles believer, too.)  Seymour did believe in styles of thinking, but didn’t buy the simplistic learning styles definition.  He insisted that I read the book Neurotic Styles because he thought the psychoanalytic perspective provided more insight into how people might approach programming.  I realized later that our discussion was probably just as he and Sherry Turkle were developing their paper Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete which has been one of my favorite Seymour papers.

While I had only a few direct experiences with Seymour, I have been mightily influenced by his papers, book, and most of all, his students.  Yasmin Kafai, Brian Silverman, Amy Bruckman, Gary Stager, Mitchel Resnick, Uri Wilensky, Idit Harel, David Shaffer, David Cavallo, Marina Bers — I am hesitant to list them because I’m sure that I’m forgetting many.  Seymour’s students have been my friends, mentors, (constructive) critics, colleagues, and co-authors.  Through them, I have developed my understanding of constructionism and the power of computing as a medium for expression and learning.

What a wonderful legacy Seymour Papert has left us!

Seymour Papert, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Logo Foundation, died on July 31 at his home in Blue Hill, Maine. He has inspired millions of people around the word to be joyful and creative learners and teachers.

Source: Logo Foundation

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • […] via Seymour Papert has died and leaves a lasting legacy — Computing Education Blog […]

  • 2. bobirving13  |  August 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Truly a giant in the field. I spent some time at the MIT Media Lab this summer and met some of his colleagues. What a legacy he left!

  • 3. Guy Haas  |  August 2, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Like Mark, Seymour was such an inspirational person for me. I too read his books, followed his work. Although I never met him, I did have an email exchange with him regarding his project to rollout laptops to students in Maine. He somehow found the BFOIT website and kicked off a conversation with me. This was in 2005. I just searched my system and found some of the emails. It is so sad that our conversation came to an abrupt ending with his accident in Vietnam. He was so passionate about what he was doing – he seemed to have so much energy for someone in their late 70s at the time. Seymour will be missed by so many and remembered forever.

  • […] and Papert’s paper on epistemological pluralisms is one of my favorite by Seymour (which I talked about here).  This is the first paper I’ve read about how to encourage […]


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