[Edu-sig] another edu-sig page textbook (suggesting to AR)

Jeff Rush jeff at taupro.com
Thu Apr 30 22:04:07 CEST 2009

kirby urner wrote:
> I'm not saying the edu-sig page should get into all this, as it aims
> to stay brief and uncluttered, just thinking we need some way to
> suggest the "science fair" aspect of future Pycons (the idea
> originates with Steve Holden in response to BOF-expressed desires to
> get teachers more involved, Pycon having a predominantly business
> flavor, with Jeff Rush going so far as to suggest a whole separate
> EduPycon, which idea I've continued to float, as worthy of
> consideration, including in edu-sig threads why not?

Hmm, "science fair", how about a "Python Fair" along those lines.  It could be
a "Programming Fair" but that might lead people to think it was only for CS
majors.  It might be "Computer Fair" that I think that opens up the event too

I was thinking of regional events, 3-4 a year, to make them more convenient to
teachers and students who often lack a budget to travel.  With a focus on the
use of Python programming in education, both K-12 and University level, both
for CS and definitely non-CS subjects.  It would take place on a weekend,
perhaps just Saturday to be considerate of those who cannot take time off from

There would be two tracks; one for students learning to program, with good
support for beginners to Python and total beginners to programming.  The
second track would be for teachers to learn how other teachers use programming
to present their subject areas.

I bet we could get some sponsors to defray costs, and put together a proposal
to the PSF for funding of travel costs for some top-notch speakers.

Anyway just a idea I keep thinking about, that could show a good return on the
PSF finances, and wondering if its something enough people would get behind to
make happen.  It also promotes the use of Python early in the pipeline, with
students adopting it in their professional life after leaving school.  I don't
have the background or contacts in education to chair it though.

> CP4E and/or P4E never meant turning everyone into CS majors right?  We
> should make sure that the "education" in edu-sig is far broader than
> CS departments reaching out...

It definitely meant more than making everyone a CS major.  It is about
empowering people to participate in an increasingly more computerized world,
opening the box, dispelling the magic and getting people to take control
according to their abilities.  A basic literacy, a conceptual model of how it
works and the encouragement to dabble, to program their appliances for their
lifestyle or just to have fun.  Few dabble with electricity or water due to
the danger and costs.  Programming is much more forgiving of play and very
very cheap to do.

How about an alarm clock you can program with simple script, to make it work
the way you want - a different snooze delay, with per-day differences in
behavior for your work schedule.  Or a TV system scriptable to catch programs
in the manner you want, the prioritization you want, and store different
content to different levels of quality, perhaps with email/IM/twitter notices
of specific situations.  Or perhaps just a better understanding of the idea of
automated trading or the power grid failures or why security of online systems
is so elusive.

Imagine an alternate history where cars (buses) are all driven by hired
drivers because only trained automotive professionals are considered safe by
society to control multi-ton powerful masses of metal and fuel.  I mean, if
non-engineers drove them, there would be wrecks everywhere and cars flying off
the road -- certainly a grandmother or teenager could not drive them safely.
Imagine the impact on society of that history and of when people start
insisting on driving themselves for the simple trips, tired of being dependent
on others.  That's what I see today, people in their driving caps and jackets,
making programming a big deal when it shouldn't be.


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