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

Alan Kay alan.kay at squeakland.org
Sun Apr 23 10:23:01 PDT 2006

Hi Bob --

At 08:38 AM 4/23/2006, Robert Parks wrote:
>Is anyone in the Squeak community developing tools for language literacy.

We should be. One of the more interesting and early attempts at this was an 
Apple II program designed by Chris Cerf (son of Bennett, working with 
Sesame Street at the time). It was a sentence maker for young children and 
each sentence was then carried out by animated figures. We thought a little 
about this when we designed the scripting language for Etoys, but never got 
around to making the very young child's version. This has come up again wrt 
to the 100$ laptop (where it would be a very useful part of "scripting as 

>   I have developed a children's dictionary (http://www.wordsmyth.net) and 
> am working on an early literacy dictionary.  In particular, I'm 
> interested in the intersection of tools for programming with variants of 
> controlled English, and tools for teaching reading and writing.

Any good sources for "controlled English for children"?

>  Teaching the "debugging of thinking" would be easier if we started with 
> the core tool - language.

More like vice versa. Human language is wrapped in metaphor and allegory, 
and it has been shown that most people have as little sense of how 
imprecise they are in language as they do of what grammatical components 
they are using. One of the reasons math notation moved away from attempts 
at careful use of language (for a good example of the "before" see Newton's 
Principia which is pre-algebraic) was that the way meaning has to be 
inferred from math is quite different that ordinary use of language. 
Scripting is somewhere in between. Many people tried to use Hypertalk in an 
imprecise way (like their normal use of language), but there was some 
anecdotal evidence that they learned to get more precise in both Hypertalk 
and normal language as they did more scripting.

>   I'm reminded of one of the first Apple II programs for children - 
> Rocky's boots.

One of my favorites of all time.

>   It involved creation of a logic circuit for distinguishing shapes and 
> colors. Too bad it wasn't developed further to find other areas for 
> applying core logical concepts in the context of analogical reasoning.

Actually it was, in it's follow on "Robot Odyssey".

More is needed here.



>>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 
>>>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 
>>>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 
>>>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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>>>  > Squeakland at squeakland.org
>>>  > http://squeakland.org/mailman/listinfo/squeakland
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