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How to Make Every Grade More Like Kindergarten

September 19, 2017
Anya Kaymenetz

When Mitch Resnick was growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, he and his little brother were always making up new games. For example, he says, “In the basement, throw a tennis ball so it goes between the pipes in the ceiling for two points, and bounces off the pipe for one point.”

His parents were tolerant of their making noise and rearranging the furniture. One summer he even dug up the backyard for a minigolf course. The design process was a matter of trial and error: Could he use soda cans to make the holes? What path would the ball take as it hit various obstacles?

Behind these games, he says, was a positive spiral of imagining, making, playing, sharing with others, reflecting and imagining again.

Today Resnick leads a research group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab with the delightful name of Lifelong Kindergarten. It’s dedicated to drawing people into that same spiral.

Their initiatives include¬†Scratch, a simplified programming language and a social platform. It’s used by millions of children and adults worldwide to make and share animations, stories, games and interactive art.

Resnick has just come out with a book, also titled¬†Lifelong Kindergarten. It’s his attempt to distill what he’s learned over the last few decades. It also includes the voices of children and teenagers who have participated in Lifelong Kindergarten projects.