Quote: What can, should, and will be done?

I was trying to remember this quote the other day and I came across it in my notes just now, so I’m posting it here… to be able to find it in the future and to share it with others. I think this line of thinking is critical to actually effecting the sort of organizational change educational technologists aim for:

“Seymour Papert wrote that when it comes to learning, what can be done is a technological question, what should be done is a pedagogical question, and what will be done is a political question.” (Shaffer, 2006, p. 191)

I guess I need to track down the original Papert quote, so if anyone knows where that is, let me know. :)


Shaffer, D. W. (2006). How Computer Games Help Children Learn. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

2 Replies to “Quote: What can, should, and will be done?”

  1. Mark,
    FYI…That quote was in Mindstorms,
    As Papert noted in Mindstorms almost two decades ago, “What is happening
    now is an empirical question. What can happen is a technical
    question, but what will happen is a political question,
    depending on social choices” (1980, p. 29). This is
    the key issue. Will technology continue to slip through the
    window of television, or will it become a door that opens
    the way to new opportunities and change?

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jenith… and for pointing me to the original quote. I think I like Shaffer’s version slightly better, actually… I guess he had almost thirty years to improve on it. Or perhaps he heard Papert say a more polished version at one point. Who knows. Perhaps that’s why Shaffer didn’t cite it better. Hm.

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