Homework help requested (not what you think!)

Albert van der Horst albert at spenarnc.xs4all.nl
Thu Jul 18 14:47:42 CEST 2013

In article <mailman.4786.1374021635.3114.python-list at python.org>,
Chris Angelico  <rosuav at gmail.com> wrote:
>On Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 8:43 AM, John Ladasky
><john_ladasky at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>> I think that they're disappointed when I show them how much they have to
>understand just to write a program that plays Tic Tac Toe.
>The disillusionment of every novice programmer, I think. It starts out
>as "I want to learn programming and make a game". Real programming is
>more like "I can automate mundane tasks", which doesn't sound half as
>exciting. But this is why I'm dubious of programming courses that
>actually try to hold onto the "let's make a game" concept, because the
>students are likely to get a bit of a let-down on realizing that it
>really doesn't work that easily ("this is a two-week course, at the
>end of it I should have written the next <insert name of popular game>
>for all my friends").

Now comes the Forth experience.

I did the following experiment with a psychology student, who had
never been exposed to computers and had no prior experience. He
aquired a Jupiter Ace, which has Forth as a built in language. So his
only exposure was to Forth. Now I started to teach him programming,
using the cartoon book "starting Forth". Once in a weeek we sat
together and worked through some exercises.

After 6 weeks he surprised me. He had programmed the game pong
which is a simple table tennis like game, where you have to
keep a ball in play.
He never gave me a a chance to prevent him having a traumatic experience
of failure by telling him that was not a task a novice should start.
Or for that matter that such any real time programming requires considerable
up front planning and design.
[This was an adult, and at the time university students in the
Netherlands were certified intelligent and skilled and disciplined
in learning.]

The lesson that is in there for you is to not hold your students back.
They may surprise you!

Groetjes Albert

Economic growth -- being exponential -- ultimately falters.
albert at spe&ar&c.xs4all.nl &=n http://home.hccnet.nl/a.w.m.van.der.horst

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