ESHS at 92 | Its Seymour Papert Legacy

ESHS at 92 | Its Seymour Papert Legacy

ESHS at 92 | Its Seymour Papert Legacy

(Award-winning photographer and former published author from Boston, Mass.)

Before his untimely death in 2016, Seymour Papert was a prolific photographer and an author of several books including: “The Unfinished World” and “Men in My Life.” At the time of his death, he was also a founding member of the Keswick Institute, an education institution based in Keswick, Westchester County, founded by his brother Timothy. The purpose of the institute, according to Mr. Papert’s notes in “The Unfinished World,” was to “combine inspiration, perseverance, family and community.”

Mr. Papert himself exemplified the term, “persistence.” From an early age, he demonstrated a love for photography and storytelling. He would doodle pictures of the people he saw in the streets, at parties, or during class when he was in fourth grade, and would give the pictures a name and a date. He once explained that he simply wanted to, “create that special memory.”

In both his letters and the files of the Keswick Institute, photos and stories are more than just memories. They give an indication of an artistic mind who had a distinct vision and a passion for learning and working together to make a difference in the world.

In a June 6, 2003 letter, Mr. Papert wrote about the Keswick Institute: “Over the past few years I have had the great pleasure of being mentored and helping build the Keswick Institute into a prototype educational institution that I believe has set the gold standard for new types of classes and an exciting program. I believe that there is a gem of something fresh and profound that exists in Westchester County which few people are aware of because there are few museums or buildings in Westchester County which give these forms of learning the type of attention and recognition they deserve.”

The early seven years of Keswick’s existence were the most formative period of Mr. Papert’s life. In his letter, he explained that he was busy building a foundation to set the standard for a new model of student education in Keswick. “I am proud to have been a part of this first-class endeavor in our fragile field of education.”

How much did it mean to him that the Institute was formed in his own hands and with his own vision? The Institute’s website attests: “Seymour Papert has been touched by the idea that his own dreams to transform the world can be realized through an educational institute for young people, created in his personal project.”

“Men in My Life” shares more personal stories of the individual and the brotherly bond that developed between Timothy and Seymour. “The Touched by the Light,” a story of Mr. Papert’s experience with Jewish inmates in the Essex County Jail, “writes, “I think this book is an homage to his dream, and that was to help others be empowered with the stories he had shared.”

“Seymour (has created an institute that) holds out hope to the community that in the days and years ahead, new forms of a more egalitarian and an accessible education can be developed,” his brother Timothy wrote in a letter to the academy’s directors and students. “Seymour I love you and would really like for you to enjoy your educational experience here at the Keswick Institute.”

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