The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget theorized that the cognitive development of children goes through four stages: the sensorimotor, the preoperational, the concrete operational, and the formal operational stage. Piaget’s work led to the theory of knowledge called constructivism. The essence of constructivism is that although information, facts, etc. can be transferred from teacher to student, knowledge has to be constructed by the student.
Seymour Papert, the creator of Logo, the first programming language for kids, took the construction idea, tied it to making things, and called it constructionism.
As Edith Ackermann says, “Piaget’s constructivism offers a window into what children are interested in, and able to achieve, at different stages of their development.” She goes on to say, “Papert’s constructionism, in contrast, focuses more on the art of learning, or ‘learning to learn’, and on the significance of making things in learning.”
Logo, through the work of Mitchel Resnick and his group at MIT, has evolved to Scratch.
Dr. Resnick explains the three design criteria used to build Scratch, “Learning lessons from Papert’s experiences of Logo, we’ve designed Scratch to move beyond Logo along three dimensions, making programming more tinkerable, more meaningful, and more social.”
He goes on to describe the social side of Scratch, “Our development of the Scratch programming language has been tightly coupled with development of the Scratch Website and online community. For Scratch to succeed, we feel the language needs to be linked to a community where people can support, collaborate, and critique one another and build on one another’s work.”
That Scratch is a success as a social constructionism community is reflected in its numbers.
As of November 21, 2014, these are the Scratch statistics.
Educators and parents interested in students building their knowledge should take a serious look at Scratch at
and join the community.
Ackermann, Edith K. (2001)
Piaget’s Constructivism, Papert’s Constructionism: What’s the difference?
Future of Learning Group
MIT Media Laboratory
Resnick, Mitchel. (2012)
Educational Technology, vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 42-46.