[Edu-sig] Age groups

John Glossner glossner@pobox.com
Fri, 4 Feb 2000 23:47:50 -0500

Hi Gerrit,

> > John Glossner wrote on 949642092:
> >   1) Math illiterate (any age but probably under 5)
> You should not try to teach them programming.
Why? This could apply as easily to a 30 year old
in a third world country as to a 3 year old. If
you pick up many programming books (other than
visual basic books) you typically end up learning
how to solve scientific problems.

By the way, if you think there are no requests 
for this I will introduce you to my 82 year old
grandfather who would like to learn how to program
but does not have any of the background for it.
The hurdle is just too high. He can however use
a computer.

> >   2) Early Education (5-7 year old)
> I think it's still to early to teach kids who can't read programming.
My just barely 6 year old is fully able to read.
She is also extremely computer literate.

> >   3) Elementary Education (8-10 year old)
> You can start here. The concept of variables, lists and functions can
> be explained. Dictionairies too, I think. Classes will probably be only
> for the very smart ones.
I can tell you from experience that it is very difficult
to keep their interest. My son complains why does he have
to learn this binary arithmetic stuff. Why can't I just
make Ash's Pokemon battle Gary? And let's talk about the
current literature available to them. It is impossible
for them to take any of the Python books and just start
reading them. There is too much background that they
assume. These books are excellent for programmers but
not ok for kids. 

There really needs to be some python material that
gently introduces non-technical people into programming.

> >   4) Middle school (11-13 year old)
> I learned Python at this age. 
I agree to a large extend that it gets easier at this stage.

> >   5) Senior high (14-16 year old)
> There's already enough documentation for this ones,
> but to encourage them it's needed to use alice like things.
> Translations are also useful.
Can you tell me where this is? All I can find is
BASIC for dummies. I would accept Java, C++ or
any other reasonable language. If it is in Python
I'll kick my heels up! I have looked and
can't find anything appropriate. However, since
I'm older ;-) you may have access to sources I
don't (ps: they can even be in Dutch if necessary :-)

> >   6) Advanced Senior high (16-18 year old)
> It's not needed to give them extra documentation. They know English
> and can make their way perfectly.
Ouch... so you throw them right into Lutz's excellent
book? I suppose it could work. Even my 10 year old
is working his way through the annotated archives.
But I really think the point of this forum is to
find a better way for them.

> We shouldn't try to teach kids who can't read yet to learn programming.
Ok. I may grant you that ages 0-4 will find it more difficult but
even for them I can envision an environment that allows them
to program by visually manipulating commands (ala record).

> Turtle graphics are also harder than you might think for these ones:
> there must be a window for "turtle.right(5)", because they don't
> know about degrees yet.
I think you really have understood my point. There is
so much Math and Computer related concepts required to
write your first program that the hurdle is overwhelming
for the majority of people. This is what we need to fix.

Thanks for your comments. It is nice to have all
ages participating in this sig!

Best Regards,
John Glossner