[Edu-sig] More CP4E News
kirby.urner at gmail.com
Fri Jun 15 17:06:39 CEST 2007
On 6/15/07, Jeff Rush <jeff at taupro.com> wrote:
> I've never seen programming books in the form of children's books -- can
> point me at some for -other- programming languages? I'm curious what they
> would look like, and maybe we can get some for Python if we have examples
> names of publishers who've already done it.
"Good questions dude" -- imagining a certain facilitator in a
small conference room. He was all surfer Bay Area talk or
something, effective at the time.
Here's the arc as I see it. Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming,
terse and "telegraphic" as Tim Peters calls it, is the "in a nutshell"
reference, but then Stanford started using 'Concrete Mathematics'
as build up (recommended by Tim in this archive, near the start).
Then comes Jason and me yakking up 'Who is Fourier?' by the
LEX Institute, a language learning think tank. Like 'Concrete' and
like the wildly successful 'For Dummies' ('Complete Idiots' and so
on), there's a lot of doodling, marginalia, jokes. The jocularity
component is way up. Then comes O'Reilly with 'Head First into
Java' and we're really seeing the culmination of a trend.
What I think has happened is CS has shed its skin as a wannabe
staid math, has proved its points, in terms of utility, sophistication,
future etc., and now can afford any pretense at trying to be
pretentious. The readership is there, already impressed and ready
to learn. So the key thing is to use *psychology* (including
"sublymonal" like in those Sprite commercials).
Where you see the "for kids" approach amped up is on satellite TV,
like on http://www.nick.com/
We're not there yet with the books, but I think the arc will continue,
with aqua teens (and duckman) teaching Python, as it were.
> His kids are ready to learn, but with what? Where's the kid-friendly
> > fantasy angle?
> > Given the popularity of Piratology and Dragonology books, you'd
> > think O'Reilly'd already have something similar (actually that'd be
> > a departure -- it's kid book authors and illustrators with track
> > records we need, mixing OLPC & CP4E (a "head first" for kids
> > -- like not too dumbed down, even with all those twisted aqua
> > teen type graphics)).
> Hmm, as you say O'Reilly isn't a primary source of children's books, but
> kid book authors and illustrators in turn are not sources of programming
> books. How the heck are you going to get them to work together? They
> differently and don't have established relations.
Think how young the O'Reilly brand is, compared to Walt Disney say.
A new crop of geeks is only now starting to have kids. The open source
revolution is all post boomer. Yes, you and I caught it too, but we'd
already gone through the PC revolution with IBM versus Apple. That
was an earlier time. The next wave will produce a new literature. Plus
there's already a wave behind that and so on. Expect change.
> Listing 1: exercise: circle a dict object being initialized. What
> > alternative syntax might the writer have used? Give a short
> > example in the space provided: ___________________________
> An interesting idea for teaching - showing source and asking students to
> reason -about- it, instead of writing programs from scratch for exercises.
> I'll have to consider applying this in some Python educational ideas I
Yes. I talk about recall versus recog (even to them) and how we learn
language from immersion in adults speaking fully formed sentences,
learn new language likewise, from being around expert speakers.
This is recog. Doing it from scratch, as a source, an author, is
recall. In between is a whole spectrum of part recog, part recall.
I use heavy recog in early exposure, as I'm more into having them
decipher mature code examples, the very ones used in our class,
complete with vector and rhombic dodecahedron classes talking out
to VPython, POV-Ray and more recently X3D. I have them learn
about common structures, such as initializing objects, populating
data structures, then have 'em eyeball source a lot, applying their
recog skills. Then will come tweaking, messing about with little
changes -- to colors for example. To numbers of things, parameters.
"Blank canvas" programming is really only a small percentage of
what employed programmers do. A lot of it involves tweaking inherited
work. Someone new to programming is already immersed in an
environment where source code is already ubiquitous. The first
question isn't "is it there, running in the background" but "is it
open or closed" (i.e. "can I see it, will I recognize when I do?").
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Edu-sig