Actionable Innovation Conversations Show Notes: Dr. Gary Stager

Winter Series — Week 7

Lucy Gray
Inspiring Global Actionable Innovations
5 min readMar 25, 2022


Dr. Gary Stager

On Friday, March 4, 2022, we checked in with Dr. Gary Stager and debriefed about education in the era of coronavirus. Gary has recently published a new book, Twenty Things to Do with a Computer Forward 50: Future Visions of Education Inspired by Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon’s Seminal Work.

Here are some highlights:

  • The “Cirque du Soleil of professional learning experiences” aka the Constructing Modern Knowledge Conference is back! Gary produces this conference with his partner, Sylvia Martinez. This summer, it will take place in a new location. Read about it here.
  • We debriefed about the pandemic. Gary had been optimistic about the state of education pre-pandemic, but then viewed practices that were troubling during the pandemic.
  • Gary’s advice for going forward post-pandemic: We need to simplify. We need to slow down in order to go forward. We need to live our values.
  • Some questions to ask ourselves when examining our values. Why are you a teacher? What’s the point of this [education]? What are the five big ideas of what you teach? Why is it that we show up? Distill what that we do.
  • “I want to live in a world where kids wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning with a burning desire to get back to school, to work on something that matters to them, and their teachers wake up every morning and ask themselves, “How do we make this the best 7 hours of a kid’s life? How can we delight in a company of nutty kids?”.
  • The pandemic is illuminating lots of things that we can get rid of. “We can Marie Kondo things that people thought were terribly important which turn out to be not so important.”
  • Learning loss is the leak-out theory and needs to be debunked.
  • There is proactive stuff we can do to combat the negative forces in education. We [educators] need to be more active and organized including voting for our self-interest. We need to go to school board meetings ourselves and perhaps even run for school boards.
  • Are schools capable of handling complex topics like CRT controversies?
  • Gary’s new book is designed to preserve the legacies of Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon. It includes people from the 70s and 80s who created software, who engaged in educational research, who thought about how children could learn with greater efficiency and efficacy, and who sought to create opportunities for kids to learn and do in ways that were unimaginable. Academics and teachers who are doing brilliant work today are also included as well as inspiration for the future of educational technology.
  • In reference to Papert’s and Solomon’s 20 Things to Do with a Computer: “And I should say parenthetically, that if we lived our values, and if we had recognized the shoulders on which we step stood, and if we had learned any of the lessons of history those of us who had been dismissed as Utopians and reckless spenders who had this preposterous idea of children having personal computers 30-32 years ago. If we had learned any of those lessons…when the machines miraculously descended from the heavens during the pandemic, we might have had an alternative vision for how o use them rather than doing school in a box.”
  • “A lot of what we’re doing in the pandemic has demonstrated that when we just react to crises du jour, real or imagined, and we make compromises, those aren’t really compromises, they tend to be detours that take us away from the what our mission is, and from accomplishing the goals that we would otherwise hope to achieve.”
  • In a segment about the ed tech industry, Gary pointed out that the ed tech community was idea-averse. Don added that perhaps it appears that way because the ed tech industry/community is focused on solutions.
  • “The school is the place where you democratize access to experience and expertise. This is the equalizer where you say, “Oh, you don’t have a maker space, we’ve got one here. You don’t have an orchestra at home? Join ours.
    That’s what keeps school viable. It’s being a place where kids can be introduced to things they don’t yet know they love, and where they can become good at something because we could provide a more democratic access to the experience and expertise.”

About Dr. Stager

In addition to being a popular keynote speaker at some of the world’s most prestigious education conferences, Gary Stager is a journalist, teacher educator, consultant, professor, software developer, publisher, and school administrator. An elementary teacher by training, he has taught students from preschool through doctoral studies. In 1990, Dr. Stager led professional development in the world’s first laptop schools and played a major role in the early days of online education. Gary is the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute for educators. Dr. Stager is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, called the “bible of the maker movement in schools,” by Larry Magid of CBS and The San Jose Mercury News. Invent To Learn has been translated into nine languages. Dr. Stager’s most recent book is Twenty Things to Do with a Computer Forward 50: Future Visions of Education Inspired by Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon’s Seminal Work. When Jean Piaget wanted to better understand how children learn mathematics, he hired Seymour Papert. When Dr. Papert wanted to create a high-tech alternative learning environment for incarcerated at-risk teens, he hired Gary Stager. This work was the basis for Gary’s doctoral dissertation and documented Papert’s most-recent institutional research project. Dr. Stager’s work has earned a Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education and he collaborated on a project that won a Grammy Award. Recently, Gary was invited by Fondazione Reggio Children to lead a public seminar on education in Reggio Emilia, Italy. For more information, visit




Lucy Gray
Inspiring Global Actionable Innovations

Apple Distinguished Educator Lucy Gray is an educator and consultant. She is also the co-founder of Actionable Innovations Global PLC!