Python for Kids

Harry G. George hgg9140 at skewer.ca.boeing.com
Tue May 2 23:18:39 CEST 2000


Another data point:

A while ago I taught lego/logo to 3rd and 5th graders.  They drew a
winding road on butcher paper, complete with a lake and mountains.
Then built a robot car.  Then did an open loop program to drive it,
trying to stay on the road via timing their turns.  Then did a closed
loop program via sensors detecting lights at the turns.  Out of 15
kids involved, only about 5 really caught on to the programming
process (subroutines, parameters, etc.).  The others just enjoyed
playing with the robot and drawing things on the "map".  In that
context Python would do just fine if it had a robot.

Glyph Lefkowitz <glyph at twistedmatrix.com> writes:

> 
> "Jeff Massung" <jmassung at magpiesystems.com> writes:
> 
> > Not to stray from promoting Python (which I love), but maybe starting with
> > Hypercard would be better? Easy to code (but many things can be done), and
> > the graphics and sound are already there.
> 
> No.
> 
> I've (a) been a child learning to program, (b) taught children how to
> program, and (c) written a nontrivial application in HyperCard.
> 
> Every single kid who learned HyperCard (especially me) and tried to go
> on to bigger and better things with it was immediately frustrated by
> its limitations.  There was a long and painful process of unlearning
> everything they'd ever done with HyperCard to actually be able to do
> anything useful.
> 
> It's also a very bad way of thinking about programming -- the
> HyperTalk reference lists hundreds of "commands" that are bindings to
> specific functionality, rather than methods or functions; there's no
> good way to define a new kind of class, let alone inherit from an
> existing one; there are scads of subtly special syntaxes, the language
> is hard-wired into a vastly substandard development environment, and
> Apple has no intention AFAICT of supporting this under OSX.
> Abstraction?  Hah!
> 
> Python, on the other hand, has very few rules, no special syntaxes,
> and many of the modules are written in python.  To be honest, I've not
> tried to teach any kids to program in Python yet, but I *have* taught
> third-graders to program in C++, and although it was slower to get
> going, it was more satisfying in the endthan teaching them HyperTalk.
> I imagine Python would be a dream compared to either.
> 
> No offense to the poster of this message, but HyperCard was what
> taught me never to rely on commercial software :-) and I really feel
> strongly about discouraging its use (no matter what the context)
> 
> and-now-java-has-reinforced-the-lesson-most-painful-ly y'rs, glyph
> 
> -- 
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-- 
Harry George                E-mail:  harry.g.george at boeing.com 
The Boeing Company          Renton:  (425) 237-6915 
P. O. Box 3707  OY-89       Everett: (425) 266-3149 
Seattle, WA 98124-2207      Page:    (425) 631-8803



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