Python for a 10-14 years old?

Michele Simionato michele.simionato at gmail.com
Thu Mar 24 11:35:34 CET 2005


Your post and the following answers made me think.

It is widely held that the intellectual capabilities of children
are inferior to the capabilities of adultes. Nevertheless,
I wonder to which extent this is true.

There is no doubt that the critical sense is much less developed
in children than in adults: for instance, as a child, I would never
had thought of questioning the existence of Santa Klaus ;)

But here I am discussing other kind of intellectual capabilities,
in particular the ability to learn a programming language.

I think the problem most kids face is *not* lack of intellectual
capability, but lack of concentration. Most kids cannot keep
their concentration focused on a single topic for a long period
of time, so they start one thing and never finish it, since
they have a thousand other little things to do in the mean time.

Becoming older, the ability to discipline themselves increases,
so it is probably easier to learn a programming language for a
15 year old than for 9 year old.

This as a general rule. There are, of course, exceptions. Many
people will never have the needed discipline to learn a programming
language. On the other hand, some people are able to maintain their
concentration focused for a long period of time even in early age.

When I was 2-3 years old I was able to spend whole *days* working
on my Lego construction set. The problem was to keep me out of
my work and explain me that it was time to eat! ;)

I am pretty much convinced I could have mastered Python at the age
of nine. Of course, I cannot prove it, since when I was nine
I had no computer, I did not know English, and Python was not
yet invented. But apart for this minor circumstances, I don't
thing I was dumber as a child than as an adult.

Actually, one could even make the case that children are much better
than adults at learning new things. Adults are better at understand
things, seing the correlations between them, and the inconsistencies
(if any).

The problem teachers face when explaining computers to kids, is
to keep them interested, so they prepare courses about graphics,
videogames, etc. But if you get the right kid, he/she will be
interested even on "IBM Fortran IV with WATFOR and WATFIV" ;)

Personally, at that age I knew everything about the solar system
planets, distances from the Sun, masses, diameters, albedos, etc.
Fortunately, now I have forgot nearly everything ;)


            Michele Simionato




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