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Logo Exchange Editorial
Looking for Logo in All The Wrong Places issue of Logo Exchange - Summer 1998
Gary S. Stager — Editor-in-Chief

Looking for Logo in All the Wrong Places

    The Logo community has been unable or unwilling to confront the larger social issues that are tearing at public education. In 1981, I wrote: "Logo is one part of a larger change effort designed to serve as an intervention in learning and learning environments."

    For the most part, this has not happened. The problem is not the technology, certainly not Logo. The problem is one of equity. Logo is for all kids, but the kids who need Logo the most have no access to it. They are relegated to educational games and instruction in the basic skills.

    Logo remains the province of a small, somewhat special group of schools, teachers, and students:

    • Teachers who are sophisticated learners themselves
    • Students identified as gifted and talented
    • Middle class and upper middle class populations
    • Private and suburban schools
      (Geraldine Kozberg, Logosium ‘96 Keynote Address)

Dr. Kozberg’s powerful statement has disturbed me for two years. While savage inequalities are still the unfortunate reality for far too many students, we are reminded that too few disadvantaged students profit from rich Logo learning experiences.

This issue is dedicated to sharing the Logo learning stories of remarkable teachers in under-represented communities. One of my all-time favorite school districts is Newark, NJ. The proud citizens of Newark endure the worst of urban neglect and decay. Until recently, a city of 275,000 people did not have a movie theater, supermarket or bowling alley. Against the odds 60-70 Newark computer teachers never avoid the opportunity to learn something new. Sweltering workshops in the middle of the summer are well attended and a pleasure to lead. Newark’s computer teachers frequently assume a leadership role in professional organizations and attend workshops on their own time. Teachers like this month’s co-Teacher Feature, Chuck Dicomo and Mike Caputo, routinely sell thousands of dollars worth of candy bars just to purchase LEGO logo or new computers.

Despite the obstacles facing the educators of Newark and the basic skills pressures they endure, Logo has been an important part of their repertoire for fifteen years. District Technology Director, Angela Caruso, is an unsung hero in the development of educational computing. Her commitment to children, endurance and skillful leadership has ensured that the kids who need Logo most are likely to benefit from the experience. Any number of Newark teachers deserve to be profiled in Logo Exchange. I’ve chosen Chuck and Mike to represent them. Teacher Feature author, Pamela Morgan, does a terrific job supporting the teachers of Newark in their use of computers.

Paula Don is a dynamic Philadelphia elementary school teacher I had the good fortune to meet in a recent Logo workshop. Paula immediately saw the potential for her young children to use MicroWorlds in a public science fair. Her enthusiasm is infectious and was evidenced by her adherence to writing deadlines.

Orlando Mihich is a phenomenal teacher in the New York City Public Schools. He and his kids have long been known for the amazing things they’ve done with Logo over the years. I count Orlando as an email friend and am fortified by his work.

Too many discussions of education reform, conferences and journals take children for granted. I thought that asking a successful young adult who grew up with Logo to share their learning story would provide an important perspective.

I never thought of Michael Gelman as my student, even when he was eight, because the word “student” implies subordinate. Michael was an exceptionally brilliant and creative child, eager to learn, explore and express himself. Michael ran an electronic bulletin board while in the second or third grade; presented sessions on artificial life, robotics and Logo at national conferences; wrote five-act farces in Elizabethan English for fun; and spent his 12th summer conducting medical research. His basement was a shrine to LEGO and he is now an opera aficionado.

The Logo community welcomed Michael as a co-learner when he was a precocious youngster of ten or eleven. I will never forget how when I introduced him to Seymour Papert, Michael’s first words were, “are you familiar with Braitenberg’s work?” After sneaking off for several hours of discussion with Dr. Papert, Michael shipped a large box full of his programs, designs and other top-secret materials to MIT. Months later, Michael was disappointed that he had not received a response to his correspondence. While I explained how busy Papert must be, Michael mentioned that the letter he sent was written in secret code. When I asked him if he thought that the secret code might delay a reply, Michael replied, “but it was an easy code!”

Michael Gelman is now studying for a dual PhD/MD at the University of Wisconsin. I am grateful for his contribution to Logo Exchange and for all I have learned about teaching and learning from him.

Bill Kerr teaches in South Australia and is an amazing repository of the constructionist research and mathematical ideas. Bill is an active member of the Logo-l listserv on the Internet and often knows more about U.S. research and new books than educators who don’t live on the other side of the world.

Bill Spezeski contributes another terrific article on math and Logo. Nicola Yelland and Jenny Masters share some of their early childhood research with us. Dan Kinnaman, Carolyn Dowling, Alan Epstein, Doug Clements, Julie Sarama and Logo Exchange Founder, Tom Lough continue to contribute their big ideas to Logo Exchange. I am grateful to my colleagues from around the world who have worked tirelessly on behalf of this important publication. The Table of Contents demonstrates that we have been looking for Logo in all the right places!

Please continue the good work that you do and share your ideas with Logo Exchange!

Gary Stager

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