aparrish: How can you find fault in a programming tutorial that teaches you how to make a blog before it teaches you how to do arithmetic?
AtDuskGreg: So many people drone on boringly about how important it is for kids to learn computers, only to come up with curricula that focus on using a spreadsheet or writing a resume.
Paul Robinson: The first book I ever read on programming was on BBC Basic and was illustrated with pictures of robots in factories pretending to be FOR loops.
I have a solid four years of work ahead of me on Hackety Hack, which is in my mind a very primitive tool, but hey the discussion is igniting. And among people who I haven’t encountered before, yeahhh!! One common theme is: where do you start teaching someone? (Brian D. pointed out Constructivism on the HH mailing list.)
I’m not really sure, actually. Who really knows if H-ety H goes about things in a sensible way. I was a very bad student myself and am often occupied with ideas which are widely acknowledged as ill-conceived. So, today, I’m surprised at the feelings of goodwill pouring in for Hackety Hack, but I suspect waves of criticism are forthcoming, which will be quite stimulating indeed.
I designed HH with two of my very good friends in mind, Oliver Mooradian and A. Woolsey. The second friend, A., was taking a university beginning Java class. The culminating exercise of his class was to read a comma-separated address book into memory. His program was nearly one-hundred lines long. And he wrote it knowing that he would never use it again. As a reminder: it is the year 2007.
I didn’t think I had many strong opinions about the way things should be. But this infuriated me!! This is not programming!! It should not be acceptable in 2007 for students to write a program which isn’t somehow useful to them. Not when we all use computers and are already employing micro-hacks (emoticons, bbcode, email addresses, etc.) everyday.
A. was also subject to a lot of mathematical programs: drawing circles, computing distances, a lot of spreadsheet-style activity. This sounds like academic drilling. Surely this can wait until after you’ve tinkered with RSS feeds and written a blog.
I can’t say, though. I personally only really use math for pagination and pointer arithmetic. Tell me: are math and programming intertwined much these days??