[Edu-sig] More post Summit brainstorming

Ian Bicking ianb at colorstudy.com
Mon Apr 17 18:17:14 CEST 2006

kirby urner wrote:
> Put another way:  what I want for South African kids is a reading
> knowledge of Python.  I don't much care how that's gussied up on a
> bltblt canvas, what bells and whistles get used.  At the heart of it,
> Python is simply ASCII source code that we know how to read, or don't.
> The target fluency we're working to cultivate is at that level, not at
> the level of which mouse buttons to click, which dialog boxes to open
> (good discussion with Alan Kay about "modal windows" over beers @
> JurysDoyle).  Navigating the interface isn't irrelevant (gotta learn
> that too) but it's not a core language in and of itself.  The focus is
> more Scheme than DrScheme, admirable though that packaging may be (I
> find it admirable).
> Likewise, I want Squeak to be about, among other things, developing a
> reading knowledge of SmallTalk.  It's not like you have to make a
> career out of being a SmallTalk programmer.  It's more like we're
> ploughing through Shakespeare, learning what a different English was
> like, developing backward compatibility -- or Cervantes or whatever. 
> Alice in Wonderland.

Is the idea to teach programming?  That seems wrong for any inclusive 
curriculum.  Programming-the-skill will never be relevant to most of 
these children.  As a way of teaching a larger set of ideas about 
abstraction, I think programming is a great medium.  But it's only a 
useful skill for a small set of students.

One thing that I think Logo gets really right is the insistence 
(cultural as much as anything) that it isn't a language for teaching 
programming, it's for teaching *with* programming.

Ian Bicking  /  ianb at colorstudy.com  /  http://blog.ianbicking.org

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