[Squeakland] I want to introduce squeakland to my Chinese friends

Alan Kay alan.kay at squeakland.org
Sun Apr 23 03:09:50 PDT 2006

Hi Milan --

Yes, what you describe is what I've called the "driver's ed" (DE) view of 
computing -- and this goes back at least as far as the "Nation At Risk" 
manifesto in (I think) 1983. It's the simplest way for school people and 
parents to feel they are doing something modern and relevant with computing.

The kind of computing that Seymour and (a few years later) I have been 
espousing since the 60s is in the same epistemological camp as real math 
and real science -- and most school people and parents don't understand 
what these are and why they are important.

I think people who are interested in Seymour's insights will have a simpler 
time if they just lump real math, real science and "Seymour Computing" 
(I'll call this s-comp) into one composite subject that is not associated 
with DE-computing. My generic term for this would be "real science" -- the 
reason for this is that "school math" has been aimed at simple arithmetic 
(the "driver's ed" of math) and there are now huge schooling standards and 
testing for this, just as with DE-computing.

Science is a little more vague for most people (and a little scary for 
others) so there is much less force behind standards and testing right now. 
This allows much more of the real stuff to be done (and combined with 
r-math and s-comp) if we could get parents and teachers to understand it 

So I would advise focusing on r-science as a way to help teach children 
thinking (and debugging of thinking) and powerful ideas and ways to 
represent them (including r-math and its sibling s-comp).




At 06:29 PM 4/22/2006, Milan Zimmermann wrote:
>On 2006 April 9 11:12, Jim Ford wrote:
> > Alan Kay wrote:
> > > Hi Jim --
> > >
> > > Squeak runs exactly the same on more than 25 platforms, including MS.
> >
> > Hi Alan.
> >
> > What I actually meant was MS apps. - Word, Excel, Powerpoint and I.E..
> > Most members of staff are scarcely aware that anything else exists, and
> > have so little understanding of computers that they can't even imagine a
> > need for anything else. I don't think this attitude is uncommon in U.K.
> > secondary schools and is largely due to schools needing to 'deliver the
> > curriculum', and pressure to perform well in published exam 'league
> > tables'.
> >From my limited observation, this is similar what we have in Canada, 
> Ontario
>as well. My daughters are in grade 9, and while the high school's program is
>quite involved in computer-related classes (there are various forms of
>business classes, accounting, publishing, "computer science", networking and
>probably more), it is all centered around learning MS Office, sort of MS
>Office training for the kid's first job. This is even more ironic due to the
>fact that the Ontario government spent good millions of dollars on buying
>StarOffice, (and of course everyone can install OO), the school system simply
>does not seem to use it at all in the courses. Not that OO would be a big
>step up from MS Office, but the rest of the world can eventually save in that
>format (notion of which escapes many of our professional developer
>colleagues, so why should school teachers be asked to be aware).
>It is as if high school education would be a caterer to business. I do not
>think it is the teachers' fault, I am imagining a reaction of a parent who's
>child is being taught something like OO instead: "Why don't you teach them MS
>Office, .net or Java, they will not use this stuff in their job, and they wil
>be able to get $XYZ an hour doing Java .. or happily create an Access
>database for the boss ... or something like that :(".
>BTW, for computer science class in the high school, it is Java and VB. A
>friend of ours kids go to school in Vienna and they teach them Java as well,
>so I suppose the ordeal is world - wide. Last year I wrote to one of the
>teachers suggesting to volunteer a extra-curriculum class using Squeak but
>did not get an answer, I suppose they did not know what it was (altough I
>tried to explain).
>Also, on your note about 'delivering a curriculum', it seems that with more
>pressure to "standardize" and "measure", any interest to focus on creativity
>is disappearing, what is interesting is that it math and science classes seem
>to be suffering the most.
> > It probably also helps explain why the U.K. continues to slide
> > into seedy decline! If  Britain wasn't a 'nation of shopkeepers' in
> > Napoleon's day, then it certainly is now - factories being pulled down
> > and supermarkets being built in their places!
> >
> > Jim Ford
> > _______________________________________________
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