TeachLab with Justin Reich

Failure to Disrupt Book Club with Natalie Rusk and Mitch Resnick

Episode Summary

For TeachLab’s fourth Failure to Disrupt Book Club episode, we look back at Justin’s live conversation with Natalie Rusk and Mitch Resnick from MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Lab and who are the developers of the Computer Clubhouse program and the Scratch programming language. They discuss the founding of these programs as well as Failure To Disrupt’s Chapter 3: Peer-Guided Learning at Scale: Networked Learning Environments. “I think sometimes there really is this misperception about this type of creative learning approach... it's growing out of, as you say in the chapter, John Dewey's ideas for the progressive education movement. And sometimes people characterize that as if-- just stand back and kids will do wonderful things on their own. And of course, if you stand back, some kids will do wonderful things on their own. But I think we're very aware that you need a whole variety of supports as Natalie was talking about. So I think sometimes people get the wrong impression about what's going to be needed. And then people might get disillusioned or feel that doesn't live up to the promise if they do just stand back and say, ‘Let it work on its own.’” - Mitch Resnick

Episode Notes

For TeachLab’s fourth Failure to Disrupt Book Club episode, we look back at Justin’s live conversation with Natalie Rusk and Mitch Resnick from MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Lab and who are the developers of the Computer Clubhouse program and the Scratch programming language. They discuss the founding of these programs as well as Failure To Disrupt’s Chapter 3: Peer-Guided Learning at Scale: Networked Learning Environments.

“I think sometimes there really is this misperception about this type of creative learning approach... it's growing out of, as you say in the chapter, John Dewey's ideas for the progressive education movement. And sometimes people characterize that as if-- just stand back and kids will do wonderful things on their own. And of course, if you stand back, some kids will do wonderful things on their own. But I think we're very aware that you need a whole variety of supports as Natalie was talking about. So I think sometimes people get the wrong impression about what's going to be needed. And then people might get disillusioned or feel that doesn't live up to the promise if they do just stand back and say, ‘Let it work on its own.’”    - Mitch Resnick


In this episode we’ll talk about:


Resources and Links
Check out the Computer Clubhouse network!

Check out Scratch!

Learn more about the Lifelong Kindergarten Lab!

Watch the full Book Club webinar here!

Check out Justin Reich’s new book, Failure To Disrupt!





Produced by Aimee Corrigan and Garrett Beazley

Recorded and mixed by Garrett Beazley


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Episode Transcription

Justin Reich:                 From the home studios of the Teaching Systems Lab at MIT. This is TeachLab; a podcast about the art and craft of teaching, I'm Justin Reich. Today, we're sharing the fourth episode of our book club series discussing my new book, Failure To Disrupt, Why Technology Alone Can't Transform Education.

                                    This week, we're talking about chapter three, peer guided learning at scale, network learning environments. For this conversation, we were very fortunate to be joined by Natalie Rusk and Mitch Resnick from the Lifelong Kindergarten Lab at MIT.

                                    Mitch and Natalie are the developers of the Computer Clubhouse Program. And then the amazing scratch programming language and community. I was excited to invite Mitch and Natalie to the book club, because really no educators, education technology developers, have been more successful at building a program based on peer learning principles that has been integrated into schools.

                                    There's nothing that comes close to the scratch programming language from the Lifelong Kindergarten Lab at MIT. We found this to be a great conversation and we hope you'll enjoy it. Let's dive in.

                                    So as a way of to getting to know our guests, once again, we'll invite them to tell us a little bit about who they are and what they're working on, and then their ed tech story. What's one education technology encounter, or event, or experience, that somehow set you on the path you're on, or has some distinctive place in your memory. And why don't we go ahead and start with Natalie. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about who you are, and how you got here?

Natalie Rusk:                Sure. So Natalie Rusk. My title is research scientist at the Media Lab in the Lifelong Kindergarten Group. I'm really a educator and a developer of resources and initiatives. And let's see, it was more than 30 years ago I first came to study technology and learning at Harvard, but actually I ended up spending most of my time at MIT, where Mitch was still a grad student at the time, with Seymour Papert. And I took a Seymour Papert's course, Edith Ackerman's course.

                                    And I started also volunteering to help out with Programmable Lego, the Lego logo activities. Both at the museum where parents and families, and then also in the Boston Public Schools, there was initiative from the group Seymour, and Mitch and others were doing work there. Both with logo programming and the programmable Lego. So I started helping out in the classroom.

                                    And I remember one of the moments that stands out for me in helping, there was a fifth grade class. I helped out in first grade, fifth grade, the teachers were leading the activities, but I was helping kids along the way. And I remember there was a fifth grade girl who had built a car from Lego, and she was excited to be starting to program it.

                                    And she wanted to know, if she wanted to make it go all the way across the table, how should she program it? And we talked about how, if you said on for 10, why don't you see how long that goes? And then it just went. It went for one second, but she wanted it to go further. So I was like, "Well, okay, how long?" "I want it to go four seconds."

                                    "Well, okay. If on for 10 is one second, how long would you have to go?" She had absolutely no idea. She just had a really blank look. So instead of telling her, I was like, "Oh, well, why don't you try experiment, try different numbers." So she was experimenting with different things and like catching it if it was going off the table.

                                    And it was a iterative process and she actually was counting and then used a watch then to try to be more accurate with her counting. But anyway, I remember at one point she called me, she was like... She figured it out. She was like, "When you go on for 20 it goes two seconds, when you go on for 30, it goes three seconds." And it was just like this light bulb. She was so excited and she had figured it out. And here she was a fifth grader and I'm sure they had been doing times tables or number lines.

                                    But I think it's just like, if you fill in a worksheet, and you just get it handed back, it doesn't have this meaning. Whereas you're trying to get your car to go, and suddenly, there's like a relationship. And you're seeing, is it going? How long? And she was starting to build that. So I just think all along, it was just her excitement and figuring that out, and that the numbers meant something, that she actually wanted to do. And I think that was one of the things that kept me going. And I still remember.

Justin Reich:                 Yeah. As I think as Mitch has said in other things, how often is it that in math class you learned skip counting or ratios, and a student runs up to the teacher and says, "Thank you. Thank you so much. I'm so excited to learn."

Natalie Rusk:                Yeah, you're right. Yeah. You have that in the book, that story about thanking for score. And this was a similar thing. Yeah. Where numbers helped her accomplish something.

Justin Reich:                 Right. They got the car across the table.

Mitch Resnick:              Again, I [inaudible 00:05:10] had a winding path. In college, I had majored in physics, I wrote for the college newspapers. When I graduated, I was a science journalist for a number of years, which I think also relates to education. I want to help people understand things. But then I moved into education. I got inspired by work that Seymour Papert was doing, came to MIT.

Justin Reich:                 Seymour Papert who was one of the first people at the Media Lab, and develop the logo programming language, and is sort of a signature thinker and-

Mitch Resnick:              Sort of like a pioneer and thinking about education technology. Along the themes that we're going to be talking about today, I remember one example in those early stages. Around the same time where Natalie's story was taking place. It was a workshop that actually built... We were both involved in, with teachers using some of the same technology that Natalie was talking about.

                                    And the thing that struck me the most, and I think had a big impact throughout my career is the way that at this workshop, different teachers used the same materials in such different ways. And we left it open to them to work on projects that connected to something that they really cared about. So like there was one teacher who really liked music, and she probed like a little bit of arm with [inaudible 00:06:20] toy xylophone. So it would play the xylophone.

                                    You could program it to physically play the xylophone. And another one had a pet hamster, and used some sensors to keep track of what the hamster was doing. And another one came from New Orleans and made like a Mardi Gras scene with things spinning around. It was like a kinetic sculpture that captured the spirit of Mardi Gras.

                                    And for me, that idea that each of them connect with these materials in their own way. And I saw that they really got engaged, and struck me was so important that they were going to go back to their classrooms. And then we followed up and saw that they use it with their students in that way. And just the importance of each of them having multiple pathways for engaging with these ideas.

                                    And not only were they using these same materials, but there were learning maybe the same ideas. They were learning the same problem solving skills, and design skills, and collaboration skills. But, building on something that they really cared about. So for me, that really had a big impact. And I think it's been at the core of approach that Natalie and I have taken over the years.

Natalie Rusk:                Yeah. And that's what the idea of building on, especially young people's interests, or educators' interests, is what motivated us to start the clubhouse, computer clubhouse. Actually, I was working in a museum. And there were some kids who came in actually to use the programmable Lego. And they were coming back every day and getting really excited about it, speaking in Spanish to each other.

                                    And then after that week, it was a school vacation week. The next week they came in ,and they were looking for that opportunity, but it had just been a special program. And so it turns out then I got an email saying there's kids sneaking in the museum, [inaudible 00:08:14] security to call. And I'm like, "No, no, they're coming. They want to create things. They want to do things."

                                    And so that's what led us. I started looking to see were their afterschool programs in the area where they could go and create. And at the time there really wasn't a space where they could build and make things using technology, or any materials, really.

Justin Reich:                 And that remains a problem in many cities, in many places. Nicole Pinkard from Northwestern has done some great audits of Chicago. Where she said, "Look, there's a basketball court within X hundred yards of every family in Chicago, in every neighborhood across all different kinds of socioeconomic divides and red lines and things like that. But the maker spaces are all concentrated on the North side of Chicago and they don't in the same degree in the South side of Chicago. And she has a great line, "You can't be what you can't see." If these opportunities aren't there for you to explore and experience, then you can't imagine yourself participating in them. So then, you all went and you created this network of computer clubhouses. And I think one of the things to me that's really interesting there is that you were thinking about what kinds of activities and pedagogies and routines do we want people to do? What's the technology that we want them to interact with, but then what's the context? Who are the adults that are there? How are things set up? How do people interact with them? And thinking not just about Lego Logo and a certain kind of education technology, but how that education technology gets used in a broader context.

                                    And then Scratch in some sense... So Scratch is both the programming language, but it's also an online space and community. Scratch is a little bit like the online context that sort of replaces... It doesn't have to replace, but in a sense, replaces computer clubhouse in that model. And instead of having Lego Logo in these computer clubhouses, you have the scratch programming language in this online environment, which again is an online environment which is meant to foster certain kinds of practices, but not others, encourages certain kinds of behaviors, but not others. Like what were the things that you learned in the process of doing all this work in the computer clubhouses that became core principles for developing Scratch?

Mitch Resnick:              Yeah. And in fact, the idea for Scratch grew out of our work in the clubhouse. So the first clubhouse opened was in 1993. Natalie, do I have the year right? I think it was 1993 was the very first clubhouse. And it gradually grew. And by the middle of the 90s, there were a half dozen of them and then started growing. But one thing we saw from our work at the clubhouses is that a lot of the kids who came wanted to create their own interactive stories and games and animations, but there weren't good tools for doing that. Some of the traditional programming languages for kids hadn't kept up with the times and the kids couldn't use the rich media that was coming out, and all of the children's products in those days were teen products.

                                    But also, they weren't ready to use adult to professional programming languages like Java or C++. And some other specialized apps were too narrow. It didn't meet what the kids' need. So we saw there was a need. So it really [inaudible 00:11:28] what the young people at the clubhouses wanted. So that's what inspired us to get started. It was about 10 years after we opened the first clubhouse, we said we really need to make a new tool. So around 2002, 2003, we started thinking about how to make this new tool, because as you said it, it wasn't just going to be a programming tool for making your own stories and games. But since we've seen the collaborative aspect of the clubhouses was so important, we wanted Scratch also right from beginning to be a community. So we created an online community at the same time we created the programming language. So kids could create their stories, games, animations, but then share them online for others.

                                    And again, it does fit in with the chapter of the book that we were reading. This idea of having this online community really fits in with the peer guided learning. And I think we saw this really different from like in your earlier chapters where you talked about instructor guided or algorithm guided. In our mind, those are types of things that we were trying to move away from, that we saw those as reflecting an approach to learning and education that was based on delivery model. You were delivering instruction or delivering content, whether it was a human teacher delivering or a machine delivering.

                                    And we really wanted a very different approach where it was much more providing a context and an environment and support for young people to explore, experiment, design, create. And the peers is part of that. But in fact, I think it was peer guided, but there was a whole collection of things that do get talked about in the chapter. We've sometimes talked about it in terms of these four ideas of projects, passion, peers, and play.

Justin Reich:                 The four P’s.

Mitch Resnick:              The four P’s of creative learning. So we see the goal is creative learning. Having kids grow up as creative thinkers, which I think is so important to today's world. And the best way to support kids as creative thinkers is to engage them and provide them with opportunities to work on projects based on their passions, in collaboration with peers, in a playful spirit.

Natalie Rusk:                Yeah. One thing I appreciated and you called out in your chapter, that often these very different approaches, Justin, are talking about the same goals. Like if you look world economic forum, a lot of places, the so-called 21st century learning skills too is like creativity, communication, collaboration. And then when you get to what is the actual approach, I'm glad that you highlighted that, that it is very different often.

                                    Although, maybe not. I feel like there's also... Maybe it'd be good to... We'll talk more about like is it exactly the way how we think about it. So it's not just like open and we don't give you any support. I think sometimes people don't see the support that is there, but I think we really agree the subtitle about what actually seemed more peppered in our group is called techno centrism. Like that you're really calling that out. I mean, I'm old enough. At the beginning of my career, I remember it was like, we're going to go CD-ROM or there's like a laser disc technology was like going to be the answer, because like you could have a whole encyclopedia of information there.

Mitch Resnick:              It will all fit on one disc.

Natalie Rusk:                Yeah. And I think we definitely agree with you that like now it's... And I remember VR. It's weird. VR has had two waves, 30 years apart, about like kids could go to the bottom of the ocean exploring. Like, what are you going to see at the bottom of the ocean? I'm not sure, but anyway, this whole idea that technology is going to be the thing that changes. And there is also like a very much of... There's corporate often interests behind some of those initiatives, right? Of like we're going to sell you the latest technology. And I think the AI machine learning one is one that we are really skeptical of as like now that's the latest one that people are pinning on, either as important for kids to learn or that that's somehow going to help them in their learning process.

                                    And again, I mean, like you said, it's like at least not technology alone, but also just being very much more critical. And I think you raise a lot of questions for people to think about, is like what model of education are we talking about here? So I think, yeah, rather than just thinking about the technology, thinking about the approach and the context in which it's being introduced.

Justin Reich:                 I think that context piece is something which I've always found really interesting about your work. And I point it to my students a lot too, this idea that Scratch couldn't have existed without having a bunch of time in computer clubhouses saying like, what do kids want and how do they interact with each other? And what's the reality of these circumstances? A lot of my undergraduates at MIT who want to go right into education technology, they're usually not happy when my advice is go teach in a classroom, go work in an after-school program, go figure out what people actually need in those circumstances.

                                    One argument that the book makes is that, one, challenge of peer guided learning environments, especially as they've got integrated into schools. But also I think in informal context is that if you're leaving a lot of the work of the learning experience of participants to peers, then that learning experience can feel disjointed. At its best, it can feel sort of serendipitous. Like, oh, look at these kinds of new things coming at me, but it can also feel like, ah, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do here. You say we wanted to build something that's really different. Well, if you build something that's really different, it feels really different. It feels unexpected. It feels like I don't know what I'm supposed to do. So what do you feel like are some of the supports and guides and other kinds of things that you've been working on to have something both be exciting and unfamiliar, but also accessible and learnable to participants who are sitting at home, wherever they are in the room.

Natalie Rusk:                Yeah. So like in Scratch, there's a lot of support that people might not realize. I mean, every day the community team is highlighting certain examples, helping young people who highlight, curate examples. There's a Scratch design studio with a prompt. There's tutorials when you come in that we've developed. They really try to highlight examples from a lot of different young people, so that you see a range of projects at different levels. In terms of this whole idea of open, there's a lot of moderation that's going on, the whole community and moderation team. There's a great Berkman report recently that talks about some of that work, a lot of the work comes in through there, and then there's feedback both from peers, there's also Scratch itself ... so I've worked with others on the resources team to make the tutorials, and there are a lot, especially in the new version of Scratch. When I ask young people, like, how did you learn Scratch, they almost always say either by looking at other people's projects, or by I just experimented and figured it out.

                                    I'm not saying it's all self-guided, because again, we do have ... I've created these Scratch cards with others, so there's a lot of supports in there. And again, some of it might not be so apparent, but the work that goes into what are the examples that you see when you come in, and what's highlighted and what are some invitations that are on there?

                                    And as well as, I think there's also, and we can get back to that later, but just the way we imagine it introduced in a classroom is somewhat different than I think it was described in the book, of kind of like, okay, just go for it. We almost always, when we're working even in and out of school, there's usually a shared theme, and there's a structure to the workshop so that, even if people are, they're working on different projects, but it's a shared theme, there's examples that are given at the beginning, so it's not just ... and you might demo a little bit at the beginning, and then you get started and people are helping each other.

                                    So the peer part does come in, and yet there's also the facilitator or teacher who's structuring the workshop, is really thinking about how do we get everyone to get engaged, and how do we help everyone get started and start learning from each other?

Mitch Resnick:              Yeah, I think sometimes there really is this misperception about the creative learning approach ... it's growing out of, as you say in the chapter, a Dewey, John Dewey's ideas for the progressive education movement. Sometimes people characterize that as just stand back and kids will do wonderful things on their own. And of course, if you stand back, some kids will do wonderful things on their own, but I think we're very aware that you need a whole variety of supports, as Natalie was talking about.

                                    So I think sometimes people get the wrong impression about what's going to be needed, and then people might get disillusioned or feel that it doesn't live up to the promise if they do just stand back and say let it work on its own. But that's not what we intend, so I think it's a big effort to try to make sure we have that right type of educational support. Actually, Natalie and I just finished up an article that's going to come out next month, it's called Coding at a Crossroads, and it's about that, in the last decade, coding, Scratch being an example, has spread much more quickly and widely than we ever imagined. Millions and millions of kids around the world are now using it.

                                    On the other hand, we see there's a great risk of disappointment and backlash if there's not a similar spread of an educational approach. We do see in a lot of places it gets used in a way, it's not aligned with educational ideas. It's much easier to spread the technology than to spread the educational ideas, so we really see that as the challenge for the next 10 years to really live up to the promise to make sure that we ... and there are all these great examples out there, so we get so much inspiration from seeing how certain teachers and certain schools are putting this into practice in really wonderful ways, but there's a lot of effort [inaudible 00:21:53] how to help more and more people, more schools, more teachers, put it into practice in this way.

Natalie Rusk:                There was a great, the Chicago public schools, there's a principal who, just on Friday, there was a discussion with some of the people from the school who had been implementing Scratch in the classroom along with a discussion with Champika Fernando, so it'd be great to share that as part of the World Education Week. They were discussing how they approached it, how they involved families. Leadership like that can really bring it in in a way that makes sense.

                                    So I do think it's reaching a lot, but how ... again, it's not just the technology, it is what is the pedagogy, and I think one way that we look at that is looking, if everyone's needing to do the exact same project in the exact same way, you're not really ... it's not just two ways to the same thing, because what we're looking at, if you really want to develop creativity, young people need to have to be able to develop their voices, develop their ideas, try something out, be able to share something.

                                    We see on the online community, you see things like kids doing things about climate change, protecting the environment, Black Lives Matter projects, so they're really developing their voice. And I do think the sense of agency, so learning to be creative by creating, it's not just a different approach. I mean, it's not just a different way to the same place, because I think you get to a different place if you really are empowering young people to think, what do you want to say, what do you want to make? 

                                    Even if it's within a certain theme that's shared ... like, example, creating something, pick your favorite book and bring it to life. So we're all working on a new kind of book report, but really, kids are picking something that means something to them, they're bringing characters, whether it's fiction or non-fiction, to life that matter to them, and they're figuring out how to do it. And then they're interested in each other's work as well.

Mitch Resnick:              Yeah, it was one thing, as Natalie and I talked about the chapter, it was one thing that, again, we were feeling that we want to jump in a little bit-

Justin Reich:                 Great.

Mitch Resnick:              -on this issue of, some of the chapter talks about, as if, well, this approach could work as long as kids have that interest. And if other kids don't have the interest, it won't work for them. But at least the way we see it, it's that, of course, all kids have interest in something, and for our main goals of supporting kids learning about creative thinking and problem-solving, you can cheat that through all different types of activities. So the example Natalie just gave, which we see a lot, where a teacher might say, "Find a book that you're really interested in and then do a Scratch project that sort of tells the story and gives your ... "

                                    That connects to all kids' interests, but it's a way for all kids are going to have a way of doing it. It's not just an interest that some kids have and then others lose interest. So we really do see it as something that can involve all kids. And sometimes, the chapter framed it a little bit as though the other approach is instructor-guided or algorithm-guided to reach all kids, whereas we just could reach the ones that dived in became really interested, but we really do think that the goal ... and we really feel it's the best and only way to reach all kids, is to really make sure you're connecting to all their interests.

Justin Reich:                 Yeah, I think that's totally fair, that there are some themes within interest-driven learning which are, we offer an interest-driven learning experience to people, and if they don't choose it, then that can be okay. Although I think perhaps something, which is not emphasizing that from the book, is that I think, in some ways, you'd like to put creative computation alongside reading and writing as a kind of thing that really everyone should participate in, whereas, for instance, we all might say someone who's really interested in making drumming opportunities available to children, it's probably okay if some kids take the drumming opportunities and other kids don't take the drumming opportunities. That can be all right.

Mitch Resnick:              Sometimes we talk about, with Scratch, our ultimate goal is to have kids develop their thinking, develop their voice, and develop their identity. So Natalie talked about developing their voice, and also their identity, how they sort of see this is something I can do, they start to see themselves as a creator. They see themselves in their community in a different way.

                                    And if you end up focusing so narrowly on which blocks you use, in fact it's possible you get some thin slice of developing their thinking. You might get something about how they learn certain concepts, but even there, you're not getting a rich range of how they develop their thinking, you're not getting a sense of the different problem-solving skills they developed, and you're certainly not getting any sense of how they developed their voice or developing their identity.

                                    It's the easier thing to measure, it gets driven that way, so I think our concern is that we're missing out on the things that we care so much about and that we think are so important, and that we think are essential for attracting a broader range. We think so many kids get turned off to learning because it's just focused on the narrow slice of concepts.

Justin Reich:                 So I have two more questions that I want to ask you in our last few minutes. And one of them is just who else are you really excited about and inspired by? I mean, Audrey and I have discussed some of this before and kind of what are the examples that are like Scratch that are really sort of embracing constructionist, but peer-guided projects? What are the other online tools that, if people are really excited about your work, you would encourage them to also look at? Or what are the other things that when you all are thinking about the future of Scratch, you're sort of looking at .... Are there other places you look to and go, "Oh, what are those folks doing? I bet there's some good ideas there."

Mitch Resnick:              Well, sometimes it's not online. We've been very inspired by the work of our longtime friends and collaborators at The Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium. And I think do they have the same spirit? Often much of it isn't the physical world, although it's adding computation to the physical world. And we see the type of things they're doing, we get lots of inspiration from the work that they've done. And then also we get inspiration from groups. You made earlier the point that we do see coding more as a new type of language learning. So it's like learning to write. So we get inspired by the work that's done in the National Writing Project and the way they support kids learning to write because it's about expressing themselves. So the same way that they push against kids just learning grammar and punctuation and syntax, but let them express themselves through writing, we get inspiration for the way we want to see using technology as a new medium and a new language for expression.

Justin Reich:                 And I think the kind of social organizations that you all have created, especially within schools, among teachers, I'm sure also among informal learning things, I mean, that's a big part of the National Writing Project is basically no matter what kinds of protocols or practices the National Writing Project has, you can't just sort of download their curriculum onto your computer and teach it. You have to be in community with other educators who can help you adopt some of these new ideas. But [inaudible 00:29:18] Scratch Day and sort of all of these other things.

                                    Can you tell us anything about the last nine months? Lots of folks that we've talked to in education technology have said their usage rates are through the roof. But I bet also there are probably a bunch of challenges that teachers are running into if they depend upon using their physical classrooms. Actually, now they said before it was really important to walk into a physical classroom and see a bunch of examples on the wall to be able to give you a sense of what's possible and things like that. What are you learning from people who are trying to make teaching with Scratch work during the pandemic?

Natalie Rusk:                Well, I would say I do think that people's models of education come out very clearly because people start saying, "How are we going to deliver all that content to kids online?" And we're like, "Wait, how are we going to engage them in project-based learning could be a different question." And you really are seeing this content delivery model coming into the fore and kids lack of engagement in that also becoming much more apparent. So I think it really brings in, it is challenging. Like someone was saying, "How do you have a maker space without a space?" And it isn't easy.

                                    And so that's where, again, we're working with our colleagues like Tinkering Studio, [inaudible 00:30:41] creative learning is like, how do you help people with what they have around them? What can they do? And so not feeling like if they don't have access to technology, because the inequities that we're seeing, it's just so hard to see that it's accentuating those. But again, it's not about the technology. It's how do we have creative learning experiences with whatever you have around you? And how can we start modeling that? I don't think it's easy in this situation, but it really helps to highlight that it's a different approach.

Mitch Resnick:              It's also, I think, accentuated for us the need for connection and community. Just one example, in the Scratch community, the social activity has really gone up strongly, the commenting. And one example, there was a long time Scratcher, actually someone that actually Natalie had interviewed on some of her earlier projects. She'd made hundreds of projects when she was in middle school age, but hadn't been on Scratch for a couple of years. She came back, it was this spring. She was a graduating senior in high school and came back to Scratch after being away from it a couple years. And said she came back because she wanted to sort of create things and make connection.

                                    And she made this project called Random Acts of COVID Kindness. And she offered to be like a clearing house for people to make Scratch projects for one another that would serve some act of kindness. A greeting card for someone. So people could either say someone who needed some kindness or someone had a way to provide something that could help somebody else out. And for me, that was, first, it was just really touching that she'd want to come back. And you could see the need, the yearning for community and the yearning for connection was there. And also the importance of these acts of kindness. So trying to make sure, and I think in what we're doing is we're not just trying, we're certainly not just trying to teach programming, but also it's not just about creative thinking, although that's very important. But also the ways that people interact with one another, engage with each other. And in a time like this, with all of the different challenges that we're facing in society, having kids grow up with the creativity, connection, and kindness we think is more important than ever before.

Justin Reich:                 Yeah. I mean, that is a perfect thought to end with and seems so connected to this idea of the lifelong kindergarten lab, the sort of notion that kindergartens are places where we learn about connection, community, skills, kindness. And then as students get older, some of those themes and points of emphasis fall away. But boy, it seems like we probably shouldn't be taking the gas off kindness in our schools these days. Because certainly our society could use much, much more of it. Well, thanks for everybody who joined us online. Thanks to Mitch and Natalie for joining us here for this great conversation. It's great to get your feedback, to get your own perspectives, to push us to see some things in some different directions. And this has been a really rich and productive conversation. So thanks for joining us.

                                    Thanks for joining us for the Failure to Disrupt Book Club Conversation on chapter three, Peer Guided Learning at Scale, Network Learning Environments with Natalie Rusk and Mitch Resnick. We're grateful to both of them for joining us. I'm Justin Reich. Thanks for listening to TeachLab. I hope you enjoyed our conversation. If you'd like to learn more, in our show notes, you'll find links to all the great projects we talked about. Be sure to subscribe to TeachLab to get future episodes. And if you like our podcast, please leave us a review. You can check out my new book, Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can't Transform Education, available from booksellers everywhere. And a great last minute gift for any educator in your life. You can read reviews of the book, check out related media, and sign up for online events at failuretodisrupt.com. That's failuretodisrupt.com. This episode of TeachLab was produced by Aimee Corrigan and Garrett Beazley, recorded and sound mixed by Garrett Beazley. Stay safe, until next time.