I want to document but I need to learn first!

Jerry Balzano gjbalzano at ucsd.edu
Mon Mar 10 21:23:09 PST 2003

>Thank you for these comments, Jerry. I think you're bringing up important
>points.  I think it needs to be emphasized over and over again that Squeak
>is a research system. It is not a completed product, but a work in
>progress, and that causes ome of the frustrations teachers and other
>novices experience.

But John, I really don't consider myself a "novice" in the sense that I
think you mean.  NetLogo (the Illinois version of StarLogo)  is a research
system too, but I have learned to program in it pretty well, and to teach
others to program in it pretty effectively themselves, **even though it is
much "harder" than Squeak**.

And NetLogo/StarLogo is a moving target too, but *nothing* (maybe in the
whole Universe) moves as fast as Squeak.  2005 posts to SqueakDev in the
month of February alone!  The plea from me is to slow the train down enough
to let some of us who are in the education business do what we do best to
show what you do best to the best possible advantage.  As it is, we both
lose.  Is that too harsh?  I don't know; but it seems to me even the people
developing Squeak, some of whom may care not at all about education, are
moving so fast in potentially different directions that it is very
difficult to coordinate their (your) efforts.  That can't be optimal for
their (your?) goals either, can it?

>Any programming environment provides challenges to non-expert users, and
>expert help is often needed. In my opinion many who promote computers as
>tools for learning say too little about the amount of support teachers and
>students need in order to get good results.

Amen to your second sentence; I am not quite "in the trenches" but I am
closer than most, and believe me, I know this.  As to your first sentence,
this is part of my point, and it requires a willing suspension of disbelief
on your part: Why can I not provide something even close to "expert help"
on Squeak, when given comparable amounts of time on half a dozen other
languages/environments I have been more than equal to the task?  And if
it's true for me, how many other potential educational "middlemen" are you
losing?  Do you care?


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