[Edu-sig] Don't kids program anymore?

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sun Apr 30 17:11:04 CEST 2006

> I said on this list about two or three years ago -
> Python (and all "fringe" languages) need to become
> like VB in terms of the IDE - if it doesn't it simply
> will not be taken up in schools.

Although I think this is one approach, I do not buy that it's the only
option.  VPython is far easier to use API-wise, than PyGame, plus
provides a spatial geometry experience (difficult in PyGame).  POV-Ray
is another way to go (I've used both).

Basically, math class is already boring (to many), and required, and
becomes more relevant and exciting as computer technology is phased in
-- with an intelligently designed, Python-aware curriculum.  The
Shuttleworth approach in other words.

Showcasing a more meaningful math, richer in spatial geometry, more
invested in programming right from the start, is, I think, a far more
effective recruiting vehicle than trying to compete with some elective
"computer programming" option focusing on cobbling together phony
business apps in a VB-like setting (not that I have anything against
Python being added to a Visual Studio type IDE -- a possible outcome
for IronPython I should think).

I speak from experience here.  Saturday Academy, for which I teach,
has a strong steady enrollment, has been going for 23 years.  The high
tech industries of Silicon Valley are behind it.  We use SA to
showcase how computers *could* be phased in to regular schooling.  My
students love it, and their parents do to.  *Finally* something
technical and difficult that excites a student -- something very hard
to achieve in ordinary math class.

Granted, my students are already somewhat self selected.  But if we
disappointed them, they wouldn't keep coming back.

Also:  check out Gamemaker for another useful approach.  SA basis some
of its more popular offerings on that tool (the free version is
sufficiently powerful -- kids can buy a personal copy of the more
feature-rich one, if they want to explore outside of class).


More information about the Edu-sig mailing list