[Edu-sig] Introducing classes

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sat Mar 4 15:18:22 CET 2006

> Any kind of comments would be appreciated, especially as I am thinking
> of writing a rur-ple lesson using this approach :-)
> André
> ====================

I really like this kind of thing André.

One thing I like is the visual imagination is engaged (avenues,
obstacles) and yet the code and evaluation loop are entirely lexical. 
This is more like reading a book (without pictures even), which is
what children are learning to appreciate (we hope):  scanning
typography while using their imaginations at the same time.  Those of
us heavily into TV as a medium don't want to lose or undermine that

The fact that you actually *do* move to visual animations later, using
the facilities of wx, is very good as well.  Switching between modes
is valid, and we're dealing with TV generations who hunger for more
visual stimuli.  I often think education is a travesty because we
build visual literacy through television and then set up our
classrooms to fight or ignore that literacy, going only for chalk
boards and slow talking.

Switching between modes is key.  It restores faith among students that
we recognize all their modes / talents and plan to reinforce across
the spectrum.  Cartoons are not evil, but neither is reading and
imagining (with few if any visual aids).

In sum, I think it's OK to teach the traditional read/imagine mode
ONLY IF we acknowledge and respect the TV and audio modes they've
learned from multi-media.  I am very much in favor of teaching
multi-track editing as a part of regular schooling (lots about this in
my blogs).

More to the details of your code: a technique I use sometimes is to
start with a simple Monkey (or let's say Robot in this case) and
evolve it through subclassing.  In other words, as I add new
capabilities, I don't show a more and more complicated Robot.  Rather,
I show more and more descendents, in an inheritance chain, each
generation adding to and/or modifying the behavior of ancestor robots.

There's an implicit message here, that the children may be more
capable than the adults.  That reflects my belief system:  that humans
are still on a learning curve and our children *are* more generally
adapted and competent to live in the future than we are, in the
natural course of things.

That doesn't mean they should disrespect us (we have much more
experience).  It does mean we should eagerly share power.

Too much talk today, on adult math teacher lists, is about how "the
kids today" are dumber and/or less qualified than we were or are. 
This is all a prelude / setup for not turning over significant
responsibility to younger people.

Because our traditional school system has not made sophisticated use
of TV or multimedia (which young people grew up on), I tend to side
with them and make it part of my business to boost their power and
authority, in part by taking their talents and powers seriously.

Related blog post:


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