Marvin Minsky on Education
232 pp., 5 x 8 in, 110 b&w illus.
- Published: April 23, 2019
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Six essays by artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky on how education can foster inventiveness, paired with commentary by Minsky's former colleagues and students.
Marvin Minsky was a pioneering researcher in artificial intelligence whose work led to both theoretical and practical advances. His work was motivated not only by technological advancement but also by the desire to understand the workings of our own minds. Minsky's insights about the mind provide fresh perspectives on education and how children learn. This book collects for the first time six essays by Minsky on children, learning, and the potential of computers in school to enrich children's development. In these essays Minsky discusses the shortcomings of conventional education (particularly in mathematics) and considers alternative approaches; reflects on the role of mentors; describes higher-level strategies for thinking across domains; and suggests projects for children to pursue. Each essay is paired with commentary by one of Minsky's former colleagues or students, which identifies Minsky's key ideas and connects his writings to current research. Minsky once observed that in traditional teaching, “instead of promoting inventiveness, we focus on preventing mistakes.” These essays offer Minsky's unique insights into how education can foster inventiveness.
Commentary by Hal Abelson, Walter Bender, Alan Kay, Margaret Minsky, Brian Silverman, Gary Stager, Mike Travers, Patrick Henry Winston
“Marvin Minsky is best known as one of the founders of the field of artificial intelligence, but his true goal was understanding human intelligence. In these lovely essays, Marvin shares his distinctive, often contrarian ideas about children, learning, and education. As you read these essays, you'll find yourself thinking about your own thinking—and, more important, gain insights into why and how children should do the same.”
Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research, MIT Media Lab; author of Lifelong Kindergarten
“Let's face it, writings on education tend to be plodding, stultifying affairs for the most part. What a joy then to have Marvin Minsky, who spent a lifetime thinking hard about thinking, weigh in on the subject. Put aside all your preconceptions about age-graded and clock-based classes, all your concerns about the current education industry, and get ready to think about a radically different education where children learn to become self-aware about their own thinking.”
Hector J. Levesque, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
“In a time when education visionaries and magical solutions for our outdated schools are a dime a dozen, reading Marvin Minsky reminds us of what thinking outside of the box truly means. Even after 50 years, his ideas are still rebellious and radically innovative, and the revolution he started with Seymour Papert lives on. But these essays are also a reminder of how far we are from realizing Minsky's vision of education as the most fascinating, deep, and ambitious challenge humanity has created for itself. There is much work to be done, and this book might just be the first step.”
Paulo Blikstein, Associate Professor, Columbia University
The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding and support from MIT Libraries