[Edu-sig] CP4E

Arthur ajsiegel at optonline.net
Sun Apr 10 16:08:07 CEST 2005

> From: Kirby Urner [mailto:urnerk at qwest.net]
> Well, if you buy the *whole* point is exercising the memorization
> facility,
> then yes, this isn't broken, doesn't need fixing.

I would admit that my opinion came to be that the memorization thing was an
overemphasized skill in school.  I would further admit that I think that
technology has changed the landscape on this point.  For someone like myself
with modest memorization skills, the fact that I can't retain - in detail -
say, a particular formula was once a more serious productivity issue then it
could be considered now that I can Google myself to instant recall

> But I think the point is to provide a whole lot of paradigm "base level"
> experiences which carve out a space for future growth.  Being able to
> memorize is key, but so is being able to parse through a file -- wasn't in
> your childhood, but is today.

I cannot accept parsing a file in a programming language to be a basic
skill, and think considering it so deprecates the notion of "basic skills".
My own interest in technology and education at the early grades is limited
to the extent to which technology might indeed be able to enhance the
learning of basic skills, but don't recognize that that those skills are
related in the slightest to the use of technology.  And maybe therefore tend
to conclude that the entry of technology has little to justify itself at
that stage of the game. 

It's not, I don't think, that I am going out of my way to be argumentative.
What you are saying here in fact touches what I consider to be the near
basic nerve where I consistently get off the bus - i.e. I reject programming
skills as anything near basic, and think any emphasis of such skill should
be directed - out of the box - at solving real and more fundamental learning
goals.  And that if we conclude that such an approach is unrealistic - it
might in fact be - than we should satisfy ourselves with programming for the
few with an active interest and aptitude.

To my ears you are making the "it is important to learn programming because
it is important to learn programming" argument, which I do not or cannot
accept. Especially from a programmer.

Where would you place parsing through a file, versus, say, being able to
read music notation - as a "basic skill" for fifth graders?  Where should we
be directing limited resources? This wouldn't in fact be a discussion worth
having (if it is in fact worth having) were it not for the fact that it is a
hard reality that things such as music programs are suffering as a result of
the prioritization of "computer skills".  And I keep thinking we are still
digging out of some kind of mass technology bubble mentality when we can't
differentiate better than that.


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