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

Milan Zimmermann milan.zimmermann at sympatico.ca
Sun Apr 23 19:49:35 PDT 2006

Hi Alan,

Perhaps part of the difficullty to introduce s-comp in schools lies right at 
the computing industry doorstep - the prevalence of HTTP protocol, 
HTML/JSP/otherSP manufacturing, seems to show the industry is stuck deeply in 
"driver's ed" view and do not exactly show that the industry has the mental 
capacity to invest in creating something better, so it seems hard to ask any 
better of education. Maybe the "driver's ed-comp education" just follows what 
"driver's ed-comp industry" is asking for... 

However, as you said (if I understood correctly), the best path may be to take 
a new cross-field approach "science and math by computation" that would not 
threaten the established, and provide fun, experimental approach, and help 
developing creativity, show building process rather than result, and hands on 
deep understanding in all three.

I am not a teacher or educator, but I think in all this one has to remember 
the importance of personal example and motivation some teachers provide 
(although it must be very hard if teachers are to be judged only by immediate 
results of their students following a predefined curriculum). My physics 
teacher in grade 7 and 8 and math teacher in grade 9 provided me with more 
motivation than any teacher after that, but it was not "measurable" that year 
(although, looking back, to some degree it was). Thanks for your comments,


On 2006 April 23 06:09, Alan Kay wrote:
> 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
> better.
> 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).
> Cheers
> Alan
> ---------------
> 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.
> >
> >Milan
> >
> > > 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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> >
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