[Edu-sig] Computer Programming for EVERYONE...

kathrine smith rabit126@yahoo.com
Wed, 3 May 2000 13:10:49 -0700 (PDT)

--- Dustin James Mitchell
<djmitche@midway.uchicago.edu> wrote:
> On Tue, 2 May 2000, Jeffrey Elkner wrote:
> > I want to thank Dorothea Salo for her important
> and thought provoking
> > contribution to this discussion list (CP4E,
> Including Women (or Why More Women
> > Aren't Hackers) - April 27, 2000).  She single
> handedly woke up the list with a
> > very important problem that demands our attention.
> <snip>
> > All of us benefit from addressing this problem by
> helping to create a better
> > world.  It is also the only way that CP4E can be
> truly effective.
> I couldn't agree more.  I've long been casting
> about, trying to see how
> CP4E can really make a difference (I know, I'm
> young, I still like that
> phrase...).  Here's a gzipped core dump:
> CP4E is a federally funded program, the lucky
> recipient of a very
> selective grant.  This isn't a $10,000 grant from a
> state board of
> education, or even from the DOE.  It's a $2 million
> grant from DARPA.
> We shouldn't be developing just another curriculum
> -- it has been and is
> being done already.  Look through the web, starting
> from e.g. the DOE
> page, the Edu-Sig homepage, or the CPS homepage [1].
>  I'm sure we could
> develop a 'killer app' curriculum, complete with
> lesson plans, support
> code, development environments, visual aids,
> mathematical relevancy,
> scientific modeling, and engaging graphics.
> But I think that even such a 'killer app' will fail
> to usher in an era of
> 'Computer Programming For Everybody'.  It's going to
> lose out in a few
> ways:
> (-) the curriculum will not be universally adopted;
> (-) the digital divide is a much larger problem, and
> can't be solved by
>     schools, let alone by a curriculum; [2] and
> (-) gender discrimination must, as Jeffrey Elkner
> says, be addressed
>     explicitly.
> Which is not to say I know what we should do.  But I
> think we should take
> the popular support that Python has, and use it as a
> tool for social
> change.  Perhaps we could start in on some popular
> utilities, adding
> scriptability to them, and writing quantities of
> documentation describing
> how to script them.  For instance, a scriptable IRC
> client would be mighty
> useful to irc people.  If we can manage to get a
> good number of products
> out there with "Python Inside" stickers, and perhaps
> encourage some sort
> of integration between them (supporting
> OLE/COM/DCOM/ActiveX/<TLA of the
> week> on Windows, for instance), then users would
> see it as to their
> advantage to pick up a little bit of this Python
> stuff, because one little
> bit will have broad applicability.
> So I've said my piece.  Comments?
> References:
> [1] http://www.cps.k12.il.us/
> [2] James Traub, "Schools Are Not the Answer."  New
> York Times Magazine,
> January 16, 2000.
> |                         Dustin Mitchell           
>     )O(        |
>           5/3/2000
    Hi everyone!  My name is Katherine.  I am one of
Mr. Jeffrey Elkner's many great students. :) (Sorry,
Mr. Elkner, but I had to let the cat out of the bag.) 
I recently read with interest an article called "Why
Women Aren't Hackers" well written by Dorothea Salo. 
One of her many points was that there was a low
percentage of females in the computer science field. 
I am curious as to why.  I believe one reason is
because females are brought up with a different
atmosphere compared to males.  Another reason is that
computers don't spark many girls' interests.  Maybe it
is because girls (and women) do not want to risk being
called a computer geek.  I believe that much of the
female gender cares a lot about their image . . . and
to be called a geek would be horrible.  A possible
solution for this problem could be to run more fun
computer camps.  A camp for kids from ages 8-12 is
great!  The younger the kids the more fascination. (I
recently helped many girls learn to use fun programs
like Microsoft Power Point. You won't believe how awed
they were!)  I started going to these great camps
three years ago.  Last year I went to an awesome
robotics day camp.  I was the only girl there out of
10 students.  A couple weeks before that I went to
another awesome computer camp with 7 girls out of 25
students.  I am a little baffled as to why computers
do spark the female interest but many don't pursue the
interest.  Maybe, as my friend Robert said, some girls
are afraid to "tinker" around with machines.  I hope
that soon changes if it is true.  Please let me know
what your opinion is.  I would enjoy reading your
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