[Edu-sig] Beyond CP4E

Dethe Elza delza at livingcode.org
Thu Apr 14 19:40:51 CEST 2005

The point of my earlier post was not to argue for putting fab labs (or 
computers) in schools, the fab lab info was to set up the thought 
experiment (which requires neither fabs labs nor computers): If you 
could make anything (and you can) what would you make?  And how would 
you have answered this ten years ago, or when you were eight years old?

I guess eight is a magic number for me because, a) eight-year-old get 
mentioned in the fab lab context a few time in the ITConversations 
presentation, and b) my daughter is eight.

Like Arthur, I'm not wholly in favor of computers in schools.  I don't 
think teachers are very well prepared to present computers, and there 
is plenty for kids to learn in schools already.  On the other hand, if 
kids are being exposed to computers, I think they should learn to 
program them, not use them as incomprehensible black boxes, and I think 
Python is the best way forward for that.

In my daughter's school I see both poor uses of computers, and 
innovative uses (the language learning lab in particular).

And of course, even if everyone had access to a fab lab, there are 
still things which you cannot make: a pony, a way to share your dreams 
with friends, etc.  For those things there are better ways anyway.  
It's like artificial intelligence: Why spend thousands of man-years and 
millions of dollars to create artificial intelligence when it only 
takes two people nine months to make *real* intelligence?

All this is beside the point of the thought experiment, however.

I'd love to see what Nikola Tesla or Buckminster Fuller would do with a 
fab lab.  And I suspect there are going to be a lot more creative 
inventors like that now that putting your ideas into physical form is 
more accessible.  Likewise, the idea of sharing plans, howtos, and 
ideas over the internet is very powerful because there is a 
combinatorial explosion of knowledge.  Creativity no longer has to be 
limited by either tools or lack of knowledge.

What are the best things we can imagine?


When all else fails, men turns to reason.  --Abba Eban
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