[Edu-sig] Programming in High School

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Mon Dec 8 21:03:42 CET 2008

Hey, great analysis you guys!

Erratum:  said livingroom.com but meant livingroomtheater.com , picks
up where McMenamins leaves off in some ways, in taking it further with
the adult content.  I shot some Photostream on the way back from my
breakfast with Allegra (Bucky Fuller's daughter), basically like a
movie theater, but with Wifi and booze, if that makes any sense:


Here's some analysis of my own, kicking off from what ya'll were just
yakking about:


Re hegemony of ETS (near Princeton), high schools kow-towing to what
they think "colleges want" (because ETS says so):  I'm happy to report
that ETS does not have a monopoly on the testing idea, so that elite
academies who want to specify more computer language savvy, as a
barrier to entry (a filtering criterion) are free to do so.  If you
want to go to an "ETS school" then jump through their hoops, sure.
But life is short, and you want to be smarter than that.  In that
case, consider looking for better testing opportunities, get a sense
of what's really called for on the job (not like your grandfather's AP
Calc testing, that's for certain (know what a GPS device is, how to
use one?)).

Re having to take something out before adding more in, not sure, as
there's lots of padding to fill out 12 years, lots of boring
repetition, persuading kids it's all so tough and difficult.
Winterhaven wasn't like that, so my daughter and her cohort are
sailing through chemisty, have no problem with 1 mole = Avogadro's
number = how many carbon atoms in 12 grams of carbon 12 at sea level
(actually, I don't think sea level matters, not a chemistry major).
Horsepower whatever.  Same stuff they learned in 8th grade, a lot of
it, not waiting for ETS to approve.

So maybe "compression algorithms" could teach us something valuable?
I'm thinking all of 5th grade math could be compressed to one
Spongebob episode, properly scripted, whereas Bill Nye the Science guy
did most of science with little help from the big dummy textbook
crowed (BDTs we call 'em -- lots more on Math Forum, also called
"doorstops" (kids fall over backwards being so top heavy with
backpacks, pathetic and a waste of Oregon lumber)).

I like that we have 50 states.  Here in Oregon, we have no
compunctions about beating the pants off of California, when it comes
to providing a stronger curriculum, plus we trust ETS to keep the
other states retarded.  That way, Silicon Forest reaps a great crop,
and the rest of you slobs work in fast food (snicker).

OK, I'm being mean.  But really folks, what will it take?  I think the
fact that Python programming might involve lots of  Chinese
characters, is already getting viewed in that way in big corporations
I work with (so-called silos), will prove a kick in the pants to the
complacent.  Universities will see those high tuitions as the huge
deterrents they've become, what with native English speakers so
valuable overseas.  Get a free ticket, and a computer science degree
at the same time, from someplace in Asia.  Don't waste your time in
the US, where they still think "programming" is something you do with
a VCR (sneer).


Looking foward!


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