Seymour Papert’s Constructionism


the N word as opposed to the V word–shares constructivism’s connotation of learning as “building knowledge structures” irrespective of the circumstances of the learning. It then adds the idea that this happens especially felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it’s a sand castle on the beach or a theory of the universe (Papert, 1991)

Seymour, says Idit Harel in his obituary, coined the term to advance a new theory of learning, claiming that children learn best when they:

  1. use tech-empowered learning tools and computational environments,
  2. take active roles of designers and builders; and
  3. do it in a social setting, with helpful mentors and coaches, or over networks.

Influencers:  John Dewey, Maria Montessori, and Paulo Freire, Jean Piaget with whom he worked in 1958 to 1963 in Switzerland.

He was also responsible for the academic work for  Logo programming language. He created the Logo Turtle, which was a physical turtle, and later became a virtual turtle which could be manipulated on screen by using the simple Logo programming language. MIT’s Epistemology and Learning Group, which Papert founded, has created many advanced technologies for learners including: robotics, system dynamics, multi-agent modeling, and digital fabrication. In 1985, he began a long and productive collaboration with the LEGO company, one of the first and largest corporate sponsors of the Media Lab. In the late 1990s, Papert moved to Maine and continued his work with young people there, establishing the Learning Barn and the Seymour Papert Institute in 1999


  1. Papert, S., Harel, I., 1991. Situating Constructionism, Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1st chapter retrieved here: (last accessed 09.08.2018)
  2. Harel, I., 2016.  A Glimpse Into the Playful World of Seymour Papert. (obituary), IN EdSurge, 3rd August 2016, full text available here

Image available here

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