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Pupils with home computers will force 'megachange'

Children with home computers are beginning to be "nuisances" at school, because they expect the same super-rich learning environment in the classroom, according to a world expert on computers and learning.

Professor Seymour Papert predicts that the next decade will see radical changes, forced through by a generation of children growing up with personal computers.

"These children are producing pressure on the school. A kind of subversive force coming into the system," he said in last week's 1998 Cherry Memorial Lecture at Imperial College, London.

The Lego professor of learning research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explained that technology made it possible to realise the dream of John Dewey - that learning should be closely linked to children's interests.

However, this vision was "radically incompatible" with the structure of schools, said Professor Papert. The technology exists that allows eight-year-olds to build musical instruments, but the mathematical concepts they need to do so are not provided in the curriculum at that age.

He said that digital technology would allow children to obtain the information they desired, creating a "megachange" in education.

And he warned that Britain's prescriptive, test-based system would result in the nation falling further behind its competitors.

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