By Jenny Anderson
In 1999, on the cusp of a new millennium, MIT professor Mitchel Resnick was on a panel where everyone was asked to pick the most important invention of the last millennium. One person said the printing press, another said the steam engine, and another the computer. Resnick said kindergarten.
Resnick recounted his reasons last week at BETT, a trade show in London for educational technology. From its arrival in the 1830s, he said, kindergarten eschewed the ”broadcast” method of teaching by which teachers disseminated information to students. That style would never fly with five-year-olds. Friedrich Froebel, the German educationalist who invented the “garden for children,” instead offered “a radically new approach to education, fundamentally different from schools that had come before,” said Resnick, a professor of learning research who also heads up the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten research group.