[Edu-sig] Designing CS...

Kevin Driscoll driscollkevin at gmail.com
Wed Jun 21 02:28:39 CEST 2006

In a fascinating turn, few raised any objection to the English
emphasis.  As regular web users, they understand and value the common
language.  Some of my in-class examples use Spanish vocabulary for
variable names to emphasize the flexibility that exists in naming
variables, functions, etc. verses the f(x) = y they are familiar with.

In my experience, the critical piece to student buy-in is REALNESS.
One of my students got involved with a Magic Card group that needed
its website worked on.  He volunteered his services only to discover
that they used some homebrew PHP on the backend.  I loaned him a
"quickstart" PHP book and he spent a ton of time messing around.

We have regular programming competitions in class ("Slithers") and for
the last one, I brought in a local programmer to be a guest judge.
His presence changed the entire dynamic and many students did their
best work that morning.


On 6/20/06, kirby urner <kirby.urner at gmail.com> wrote:
> > 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
> namespaces.
> 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):
> http://mondragon.angeltowns.net/logofe/index.html
> 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
> feasible.
> 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?
> Kirby

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