School & District Management Obituary


August 23, 2016 1 min read
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Seymour Papert, an education technology and artificial-intelligence research pioneer whose theories augured both today’s digital learning and maker-education movements, died July 31. He was 88.

Papert was born in South Africa. He studied at the University of Cambridge in England and the University of Geneva with renowned child psychologist Jean Piaget before starting a long career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968. He co-founded the Media Lab, where he led a movement in “constructionist” education theory, which posits children learn best by making things and working through problems in the world around them.

More than 20 years before smartphones and 1-to-1 laptop initiatives, Papert advocated using low-cost personal computers to teach and connect children in high-poverty countries and communities.

—Sarah D. Sparks

Samuel C. Stringfield, a nationally known expert on school improvement and a former member of the Baltimore school board, died July 31. He was 67.

The late scholar was passionate about applying education research knowledge to practice. As a Baltimore board member in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he helped oversee one of the most historically troubled urban districts in the nation. During his tenure, the district faced down fiscal insolvency and a possible state takeover. On his watch, the 89,000-student school system saw its rock-bottom test scores begin to rise.

Stringfield also held positions as a research scientist, distinguished university scholar, and director of the school of education at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Louisville, and the University of Cincinnati, respectively.

—Eric Sumner

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A version of this article appeared in the August 24, 2016 edition of Education Week as Obituaries


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