[Edu-sig] As We May Think: What will we automate?

Bert Freudenberg bert at freudenbergs.de
Mon Mar 23 13:33:52 CET 2009

On 23.03.2009, at 10:38, kirby urner wrote:

> Not really directed at Turtle Art proposal no.
> I think [...] that there's a backlash against lexical coding as that  
> means
> typing

Not at all, in my opinion. It's not against having to type, it's about  
covering distance one step at a time.

I like to compare the issue to this: When kids first start to  
understand and speak themselves, it would be quite detrimental if they  
were forced to use correct grammar or even speak the punctuation out  
loud from the beginning. They will have enough time to learn that  
later, after the basics of language are internalized.

When you introduce the concept of programming, learning the syntax is  
only one of the challenges the student has to master. If you can focus  
on statements, sequences, passing arguments etc first without having  
to introduce syntax at the same time, you remove one big hurdle.

Now Python is simpler than most popular languages but I'd still say it  
is a needless complication for beginners. The best argument for  
starting with Python anyway is that that the available graphical tools  
are insufficient. Most of them are a dead end, they do not lead  
seamlessly from the graphical representation to the textual one. I  
actually have quite some hopes for Alice 3 (although regrettably they  
chose Java instead of Python as in Alice 1).

- Bert -

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