[Edu-sig] RE: Concentric hierarchy / hypertoon (was pygame etc.)

Arthur ajsiegel at optonline.net
Sun Mar 27 15:49:12 CEST 2005

 -----Original Message-----
> From: Arthur [mailto:ajsiegel at optonline.net]
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Kirby Urner [mailto:urnerk at qwest.net]
> >
> > I pick up my tetrahedron (black electrical tape on the edges, good
> > contrast), and say "Measuring cup!" (I probably say more).  Then I scoop
> > up
> > a boat load of beans.  Now it's full.  In my other hand, Cube.  How many
> > tetrahedron cups to fill my Cube?  Guesses, kids calling out.  Well,
> let's
> > see... one.... two.... three.  Done.  It's brimming with beans, no room
> > for
> > more.  Is the ratio exact?  You betcha.
> Might they also be interested that in Egypt, long-ago, in the shadow of
> the
> Pyramids, folks not only understood this to be true, but were not content
> with this knowledge. A way of thinking was developed that allowed them to
> become satisfied that the truth of this observation "makes sense" - that
> we
> should in fact *expect* it to be true.

> http://babbage.clarku.edu/~djoyce/java/elements/bookXIII/propXIII15.html
> What seems surprising - given a logical progression of thought - can be
> found to be not surprising, really.

> What is the lesson to be learned from that?
> To me, it *is* the lesson.

I am reading - among others (I am a committed multitasker) - a book called
"In the Wake of Chaos" by Stephen Kellert, which is a treatise on the
philosophical implications of Chaos Theory.  For Kirby ... Wittgenstein's
name comes up in the second paragraph of the Prologue.

And as a philosophical work it delves into such things as the "character of

I was struck by reading this morning that the description of "epistemic
understanding"  - one of 3 broad categories of scientific understanding
defined - is defined in almost precisely the same words I found to describe
what I think we get (and can transmit) from Euclidian reasoning.

"The epistemic conception holds that science advances understanding by
making events less surprising, by making phenomena expectable"

My position here has been that the importance of transmitting to students
an understanding of scientific understanding needs to be a among the most
fundamental goals of education.

And my question has been to what extent can we tailor the process of
teaching programming to contribute to this goal - and thereby, in my mind
make it *important*. And to what extent should we let ourselves be satisfied
with transmitting the practice of a practice, and convince ourselves it is


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