Table Top Inventing Podcast

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Peter Skillen - Table Top Inventing PodcastIn This Episode

  • Do kids really secretly enjoy hard problems?
  • What happens when we let children control their own learning?
  • What can US educators learn from Canadian educators?

Join us for some perspectives from the other side of our northern border.

Welcome to the Table Top Inventing podcast. I'm going to begin today with an excerpt from Marvin Minsky's book, The Society of Mind.

"Why are processes so hard to classify? In earlier times, we could usually judge machines and processes by how they transformed raw materials into finished products. But it makes no sense to speak of brains as though they manufacture thoughts the way factories make cars. The difference is that brains use processes that change themselves Ñ and this means we cannot separate such processes from the products they produce. In particular, brains make memories, which change the ways we'll subsequently think. The principal activities of brains are making changes in themselves. Because the whole idea of self-modifying processes is new to our experience, we cannot yet trust our commonsense judgments about such matters."

Minsky goes on to describe how difficult it is to study the brain, and conjectures that with further research, we will discover that the brain is simply a very complex computer with billions of small, interconnected parts.

I'm not sure if I agree with Minsky or not. We used to believe that cells were amorphous, gelatinous corpuscles, but the closer we look, the weirder they get--unlike atoms and elementary particles. In recent years, we've delved deeper into cells and their nano-processes than anyone ever thought possible... and cells are still... mysterious.

But I digress. Today, I want us to focus on the main job of learning: helping the brain become better at building itself.

Today's guest is an expert at helping children learn to build their brains. Peter Skillen is a truly fascinating individual, and I think you'll agree with me by the end of the podcast.

From our experience at Table Top Inventing, the approaches and ideas Peter shared are spot on, and Peter has decades of experience letting kids take charge of their learning. If you want to see what happens when kids grab their learning by the horns and charge off in unexpected directions, find an Inventor Camp near you. Signup now at




Original Episode Date: April 3, 2016

Category: Innovative Educators

Direct download: 083_-_The_Longterm_View_with_Peter_Skillen.mp3
Category:Technology Educators -- posted at: 9:55am PST

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