Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

Re: More Python, Education

Just as a note, pygame has already been used in education a bit. Here are some details.

It has been taught to 9-12 year olds by a person I met at a community learning center.

Also, I did a set of 'lectures' for an online teaching website teaching python using pygame.

There is also a book in development which uses a very logo like style. Pysgear is also built on top of pygame.

There has also been university level courses which teach pygame.

Comment on More Python, Education
by Rene Dudfield

Comments:

It will be nice if and when we can get to the point of talking about what has been effective rather than what ahs been used.

And what has been effective has to be measured against defined goals - a subject about which there is a lot of confusion, and I think sometimes almost intentional ambiguity.

As Ian say about Logo:

""" It's important to remember that this is not about teaching programming. It's about teaching math, or abstraction, or debugging. """

That's pretty vague stuff, IMO. What kind of math? What kinds of "abstraction"? In what way is this more powerful than non computer-aided approaches for a given age group? What age groups are we talking about?

Personally I can't live with these ambiguities within the context of discussions as dire as the issue of educationa and children. Too undisciplined and too much room for the geeks to justify a geek-centric view of the domain.

So I am very much off the Kay bus, and make no bones about it.

And I don't actually believe that Kay has an interest in Python - at least the Python we know and love. I think his interest is in the energy of the Python community. Hopefully that energy remains focused on developing and eveolving its own approaches, rather than adapting and porting those from other domains and communities.

And I think that means evolving narrower curriculums with clearly defined goals - the Software Carpentry project, the physics curriculums related to Vpython, etc and etc. No Big Idea. Lots of big ideas.

Art

# Art

So I am very much off the Kay bus, and make no bones about it.

And I don't actually believe that Kay has an interest in Python - at least the Python we know and love. I think his interest is in the energy of the Python community. Hopefully that energy remains focused on developing and eveolving its own approaches, rather than adapting and porting those from other domains and communities.

You seem to have a chip on your shoulder about Alan Kay. Why is that? Really; since he doesn't have a blog or anything, much of what I can infer of his intentions is highly indirect. And I've become addicted to primary sources, so indirect reports are highly unsatisfying. So I'm curious what exactly you are reacting against in his work or ideas.

# Ian Bicking

I am not sure "chip on my shoulder" is fair.

What I do is look and read and see what water he has to say holds outside the context of who he is and what he has accomplished outside of realms directly related to education and children.

And the common sense answer always coming back to me is - very little.

To answer in true detail would take more space than is appropriate to take here.

What is typical in his writing on the subject is a good analysis of the issues - saying all the right things, mostly from other sources, about what our intent should be about children and learning proces and etc. and etc., and then part 2 is the presentation of his answers, but there is no coherent effort to connect the dots on how in any objectively, definable way his answers address those problems. Except that he is Alan Kay.

Bottom line, I think the questions being addressed can - at this stage - only be approached with a sense of humility. There are many who for example believe that exposure of children to computers as a learning mechanism is not simply overstated, but is fact actively harmful. My mind is open to the possibility that they are wrong. And that they are right.

Bottom line is that Kay consistently seems to me to fail the humility test, where that is the most meaningful test to pass in this domain at this time, in my view.

Art

# Art

There are too many varied and wide goals for everyone to focus on them.

The pygame goal is to make games programming easier. So people don't need C or C++ to do games. 'Takes the "C++" out of "Game Development"' It's amazing how many people are able to make some sort of game that could never finish anything with C/C++.

So pygame and python allow more people to do something fun with programming. I think programming is a useful skill to have. So teaching programming through games making is a fun way to teach something. People who are interested in something are more likely to learn it.

I think games programmers are often the least geeky/nerdy programmer types around. By that I mean, they are often more socially able. I think this is because games programmers are drawn to it for different reasons than other types of programmers.

Music, and games programming goes together often too. People interested in music programming often gravitate to python for its ease of use. However I think python is a little limited at the moment for audio programming. However python-gst, and pymedia are getting closer to allowing complicated things. The 'Processing' smalltalk like language is where it is at for audio ease of use at the moment.

I like the 'mathematician in the street' quote from your web page... a friend of mine is doing a comedy show about teaching maths in a less nerdy way right now. http://www.grouphug.com.au/tmr/ Teaching maths through comedy.

# Rene Dudfield

The teaching math through comedy link is too cool (and unfortuantely a bit too far from me). I am all for detaching math from notions of solemnity - and am working towards making PyGeo at least a bit sillier. Why limit representing a point in space to, say, a sphere. Why not - I dont' know - a propeller blade. Nothing is accomplished in particular except some silliness - which is something.

On the pygame front - I had the opportunity to meet with Winston Wolff who is working in New York on a business model centered around teaching game programming as supplementary education, mostly for gifted children. He is a CS guy out of UC Berkeley who has some background in the game industry.

http://stratolab.com/

I was trying to sell him PyGeo(sell as in free but I'd love to see it used in your curriculum), so I did more talking than listening.

But he certainly seems to be smart, with the right background, and committed to his ideas, both as ideas and as a way to pay the bills.

Art

# Art

The teaching math through comedy link is too cool (and unfortuantely a bit too far from me). I am all for detaching math from notions of solemnity - and am working towards making PyGeo at least a bit sillier. Why limit representing a point in space to, say, a sphere. Why not - I dont' know - a propeller blade. Nothing is accomplished in particular except some silliness - which is something.

On the pygame front - I had the opportunity to meet with Winston Wolff who is working in New York on a business model centered around teaching game programming as supplementary education, mostly for gifted children. He is a CS guy out of UC Berkeley who has some background in the game industry.

http://stratolab.com/

I was trying to sell him PyGeo(sell as in free but I'd love to see it used in your curriculum), so I did more talking than listening.

But he certainly seems to be smart, with the right background, and committed to his ideas, both as ideas and as a way to pay the bills.

Art

# Art