[Edu-sig] Designing CS...

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Wed Jun 21 02:12:14 CEST 2006

> Has anyone taught Ruby at the K12 level?  I love its object-oriented
> nature and the whole workflow would be familiar to my young Python
> programmers but I worry that jumping to another language is too soon.
> Kevin

Hi Kevin --

In your shoes, I probably wouldn't jump with both feet into another
language.  I'd stick with Python, but begin using the growing
familiarity as leverage to start peeling back the covers on some of
these other languages, especially those with an OO flavor.  This will
heighten student confidance that Python isn't "boxing them in" (i.e.
the skills and concepts are transferrable).

Plus students should be encouraged to study on their own.  That's the
biggest challenge I think:  to make clear that doing homework is about
developing one's kung-fu (I've seen teens practice for hours with a
skateboard -- it's not like they don't know the value of practice
(they just need to discover what it *means* to practice in the gnu
math domain)).

I liked that you had lots of lively dialog about the social
implications, and discussed the repercussions of using English in the

As Daniel Ajoy, erstwhile frequenter of this list, has shown, it's
entirely feasible to start using non-English names with native
speakers of other languages (he does this most famously in Logo, but
I'm sure in other languages as well):

Anyway, I think it's always at least a two way street, in that
cyberculture is being infused with unicode glyphs from many cultures,
and its only a matter of time before a lot of them find machine
executable contexts.

I don't even know how far we've come to date i.e. if there's a lot of
Cyrillic Python source code out there, I haven't eyeballed it yet.
But the technology isn't standing in the way.  Ruby in Thai is just as

But just because we *can* do these things doesn't mean we should all
rush away from a common standard, in post Tower of Babel fashion.
Sticking with English primitives and romanji more generally solves a
lot of problems that don't need to be resolved right now, given other
problems are more pressing.

Getting native fonts for newspapers, for example, made more sense than
messing with the coding languages, and that's been more the focus.
Typesetting, not programming.  I think that was appropriate.

So...  I guess what I'd share with your non-English speaking kids is
that geek culture is a multi-culture, and it's hardly surprising that
Latin-1 would have lasting influence in many namespaces.

That's not to the exclusion of other languages or character sets.

Plus there's room for the I-Ching, other weird notations, plus all
that funny looking math stuff.  Plus there's always APL and J.  What's
so English-looking about those?


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