[Edu-sig] pedagogy, programming environments, and readings

Kirby Urner pdx4d@teleport.com
Sun, 06 Feb 2000 10:19:43 -0800

I am becoming increasingly aware of the two schools of thought 
that Dave Scherer posted about recently:  (1) lets use Python 
now, how? and (2) we need more/better tools too.  Jim accurately 
point out (at the end a recent post) that both schools find a 
footing in the actual text of the CP4E, a sort of "founding 
document" for this group.

I don't think it's either/or.  I'm quite in agreement that 
teaching Python requires background development -- at the very 
least the public sharing of a lot of .py files (I liked the 
PythonForge.com suggestion).  Websites with template lesson 
plans and integrated Python, made known to teachers, is a 
goal I'd very much like to see realized. And I see no barriers 
to providing such content immediately (I'm already a provider, 
and found Python very suitable in its present form).

Personally, what I want to see along the lines of (2), are
pointers to web sites and possibly other listservs where
developers are actually developing/implementing.  I'd like
to lurk, in many cases, or at least check out the approach.
For example, it sounds like this Alice stuff could take up
a lot of bandwidth (usefully, with good reason).

What I personally don't particularly want to read a lot of is 
"good ideas" by people who are not actually doing anything to 
implement them.  Developers who 

   (a) have an idea and 
   (b) are publicly committing to testing/implementing 
       it themselves

have credibility.  But people who just want to dream of a 
bright tomorrow, and hope others will do all the work, have 
little to say that I want to read.  That's just my own bias.  
I can apply my own filters and don't pretend these are 
"moderator remarks" -- many people posting here may never 
read these words, or care what my biases are.

It's very common when a topic is as rich as this one for 
the flood of business to at times become overwhelming.  The 
standard response is to delegate big chunks to "committees"
(don't have to call 'em that) and get summary reports back 
from time to time.  Maybe it's harder to organize such infra-
structure on-line, among spontaneously posting individuals, 
but I've seen it work in other cyberspace contexts.  It's
very easy to create listservs these days, and web sites.

So I remain optimistic that after this initial period of 
flailing around, we'll continue on an even keel with a 
strong sense of direction and purpose.