As one who has played chess on the professional tournament circuit and one who has studied mathematics extensively in high school and university, I’m not sure I’d agree with your assessment of computer programming. I have found chess to be an amazing creative outlet, and a way to formalize my logical thinking. When I’m in a difficult chess position, I find ways to simplify and understand the complex issues. At the highest levels of chess, one speaks of chess “imagination” and creative discoveries.
Similarly, in mathematics, I have to exercise creative ways to solve a problem or a puzzle. It is very much an heuristic activity.
In fact, even today, I am frequently reminded of how my intellectual processes are informed by the kind of thinking I exercised decades ago at the peak of my chess career.
And if you don’t think that the study of philosophy, history, and other arts don’t teach you critical thinking, then you are sadly mistaken. I’m not saying Papert’s research didn’t have merit; I’m saying we shouldn’t inflate its significance.