[Edu-sig] Getting it going

Dustin James Mitchell djmitche@cs.uchicago.edu
Thu, 10 Feb 2000 20:13:10 -0600 (CST)

On Fri, 4 Feb 2000, Gerrit Holl wrote:

> 	* changes to Python like case insensitivity

In my experience, more relevant changes include flexibility in
punctuation.  This can range from a relaxation of the grammar to improved
parser warnings regarding substitution of '.' for ',' etc.

> 	* how to explain things in books, lik a variable is a box with a
> 	  sticker on it, a dictionairy is a... a class is a...

I think that trying to decide on one central explaination for such
concepts is a self-defeating effort.  Although I found the above
explaination of variables to be the most effective, not all of my students
understood it this way.  As educators we must present students with many
related ways of looking at a concept and let them pick and choose their
own means of understanding it.  It is only after studing computers and
programming for several years that one gains the perspective to be able to
synthesize all the viewpoints.

> > which books are good for teaching
> > and what books we can write? (I'm interested either way:)
> I'd love to see such a book. And because it's for kids, translating is
> important. I want to help with the book. I think I'm the youngest one
> here who learned programming as a kid, *almost* with python. I tried
> to learn Python first, but didn't understand it. After a Logo like
> language, learning what variables and lists are, I did understand it.

Books are crucial, but kids learning in school will not learn from a book
-- learning is much more effective when it comes through multiple
channels (blackboard, overhead demonstrations, gesticulations, pictures,
manipulatives, etc), and we need to support all of the available channels
if we want to be maximally successful.


|                         Dustin Mitchell                )O(        |