Seymour Papert, Click for video.

"You cannot think about thinking without thinking about what Seymour Papert would think."- Paulo Blikstein(June 27 2013, Seymour Papert Panel at the IDC 2013 conference)
Seymour Papert is referred to by Gary Stager as the "Father of Educational Computing." It was his work in the 1960s that connects Piaget's developmental psychology and today's trends in educational psychology. (Paulo Blikstein, 2013).

Born on March 1,1928 in Pretoria, South Africa, Papert studied philosophy then mathematics, pursuing further studies in Europe where he met Jean Piaget. Papert spent four years studying children's thinking with Piaget in Geneva. He then moved to the US, and together with Marvin Minsky, initiated research programs in "the theory of computation, robotics, human perception and child psychology" (Martin Boyle, 2004). They headed the establishment of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in 1968. Papert, together with Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Wallace Feurzeig created the revolutionary programming language designed for children called Logo in 1967. Papert wrote several books and countless articles about mathematics, artificial intelligence, education, learning, and thinking. His speeches would weave together "the common threads of epistemology, learning, technology and a highly-developed vision of reinventing education" (Stager, 2011). With Alan Kay, he pioneered early ideas in the use of computers that lead to the development by Kay of the first concept for a laptop computer. Papert established the Seymour Papert Institute, hosting the Learning Barn where he concentrated on projects near home. Papert's work took him all over the world, including Hanoi in 2006 where an accident critically injured him. He continues to receive rehabilitation.

Papert is most known for:
  • The theory of constructionism, largely based on Piagiet's constructivist principles: “Constructionism shares constructivism’s connotation of learning as "building knowledge structures" irrespective of the circumstances of the learning. It then add 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 p 1)
  • Papert's greatest educational achievement is the development of LOGO, the programming language for children. It was in his laboratory was where children had the first chance to use the computer to write and make graphics. Turtle, a mop-like "robot" that could represent actions based on the program, was used then to draw geometric shapes. Many iterations of Logo now exists including Scratch. (View Logo Tree here) He has carried out many educational projects around the world as he was considered the foremost expert on how technology can provide new ways to learn. Lego Mindstorms has its roots in Papert's Logo.
  • His work with Marvin Minsky on artificial intelligence added to the current thinking of artificial neural networks.
  • One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), an organization led by Nicholas Negroponte whose mission is to empower the children of developing countries by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child recognizes it's roots in Seymour Papert's ideas on learning and computers. The state of Maine has adopted the 1:1 laptop initiative for all it's 7th and 8th graders. Read about The Maine Learning Technology Initiative here.

Words and phrases associated with Papert include:

computers as pencils, learning by doing, maker faire, learning learning, one to one computing, falling in love with learning, intellectual self-determination, hands on and heads in, powerful ideas, children learn for the sake of learning, project based learning

Books written:

Collection of Papert's writings can be found here.
Of note, due to how far ahead of it's time these ideas were at the time: Twenty Things to do with a Computer, written with Cynthia Solomon.

Examples of how theory applies in education/training:
His idea that computers be in the hands of children to use to learn with seems to be coming to fruition, especially in the richer countries. Students using computers to create a variety of articles to show their learning from written products, movies, video games, 3d objects, software applications, paintings/drawings, replicas within the digital domains of real settings or of those in books...

Manifestations of his theories appear in a variety of shades. There are schools that exist like Brightworks in San Francisco and The Tinkering School in Half Moon Bay. Maker Fairs are hosted worldwide, Tinkering Spaces are being established in schools and museums.

Related Links:

Seymour Papert Tribute at IDC 2013
History of Mr. Papert by Martin Boyle
Logo Foundation
Seymour Papert's Legacy
One Laptop Per Child
Planet Papert, by Gary Stager
Constructing Modern Knowledge


Blikstein, P. (2013, July). Seymour papert’s legacy: Thinking about learning, and learning about thinking. Retrieved December 6, 2013 from https://tltl.stanford.edu/content/seymour-papert-s-legacy-thinking-about-learning-and-learning-about-thinking

Boyle, M. The history of mr. papert. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://www.stager.org/omaet2004/papertbio.html

IDC 2013: Closing panel on seymour papert 2013, [video recording], Retrieved from http://new.livestream.com/TheNewSchool/idc-2013-papert
New York City, Interaction Design and Children

OLPCFoundation [OLPCFoundation]. (2007, November 29). Seymour papert interview - one laptop per child (olpc) [Video file]. Retrieved form

Papert, S. & Harel, I. (1991 January 1). Situating constructionism. Constructionism. Ablex Publishing Corporation. Retrieved from

Papert, S. & Solomon, C. (1971, June). Twenty things to do with a computer. Retrieved Dec. 6, 2013 from

Stager, G. (n.d.) Planet papert. Articles by and about seymour papert. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from

What is logo. (n.d.) In Logo Foundation. Retrieved from http://el.media.mit.edu/logo-foundation/logo/index.html

Works by seymour papert, ph.d. (n.d.) In papert.org. Retrieved December 6, 2013 from http://papert.org/works.html