His emphasis here is the use of mathematical knowledge without formal instruction, which he considers to be the central mathetic moral of the study. Papert states "The central epistemological moral is that we all used concrete forms of reasoning. The central mathetic moral is that in doing this we demonstrated we had learned to do something mathematical without instruction – and even despite having been taught to proceed differently" (p. 115).
Papert's 1980 book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, discusses the mathetic approach to learning. By using a mathetic approach, Papert feels that independent learning and creative thinking are being encouraged. The mathetic approach is a strong advocate of learning by doing. Many proponents of the mathetic approach feel that the best, and maybe the only, way to learn is by self discovery.
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