[Squeakland] Looking for good souls

Offray Vladimir Luna Cárdenas offray.luna at javeriana.edu.co
Mon Apr 24 06:16:31 PDT 2006

Hi all,

Markus Gaelli wrote:

>Hi Stef,
>The squeakland website and image (both the image and the image)  
>currently does not fit for tool building smalltalk learners. This is  
>Likewise the geeky and technical image of squeak-dev does not fit for  
>education of object oriented programmers nubs.
>Your tutorial in squeak 3.8 image helps here. Why should this not be  
>part of the squeakland-image?
>Why shouldn't we have a button in the squeakland image which beams  
>the newbie over the fence into a good smalltalk teaching environment?
I even didn't know the squeak-dev image, but this last question seems a 
good one. Most of the time Squeak has been oriented toward childs, and I 
mean, really young childs, so what about "a system for children of all 
ages"?. I'm trying to use Squeak with a pretty eclectic groups of 
students in university (the only thing they share is that all them are 
pregrade students) and I come to squeak after having  previous 
experience with Scheme and Python (that were previous sucessfull 
experience with students with a more common background and interest in 
"Computer Science", which I prefer to call "Informatics"[1]). It was a 
pretty good thing to choose Squeak this time, I'm proud of that choice 
and I will stick to it in the future. This construction was not an easy 
one and is still being made. We need more content that can be used for 
the students profile I talked before, here in LatinAmerica, and we're 
trying to produce a selection of lectures and in the end some kind of 
original material.

[1] http://www.dai.ed.ac.uk/homes/cam/informatics.shtml

Now we can even make a little exploration of E-toys, but my feeling is 
that the time is comming when we need to start learnings and asking 
questions about Smalltalk.

>What I like about the french list, is that this distinction is not so  
>I'd like to have one english speaking list about the use of Squeak  
>for and in education, and this would include both etoys and smalltalk.
>And I suggested to use squeakland for this, as there are already lots  
>of good souls there, who do focus on education.
>Actually I think that open minded future software engineers can learn  
>a lot from the etoys paradigm.
I'm agree with this also. I think that both themes are not disjoint and 
is a bridge for making "a system for children of all ages". Sorry if 
this mail is taking too long, but I will try to talk more about bridges 
and my previous experience teaching "Introduction to Informatics" 
(anyway I read all of you a lot, so its time for revenge :-P )

In that course we try to make a first exploration of informatics from 
the point of view of a "first in width" instead of the classical one (at 
least here), the "first in depth" (you know, the one where the students 
firs encounter with informatics is procedural structured programming, in 
C/C++, then Object Oriented Programming, In Java/.Net, then Data Base, 
etc... and in the end of their career studies they come with some kind 
of revelation and they join the pieces and say "Ohhh this is 
informatics"). In our first in width approach we try to know something 
about story, social context, subfields in a panoramic way and the course 
then goes to programming (because they need to being motivated and 
prepared about the "now in depth" approach of the following courses). In 
my previous semesters I tried to follow the path proposed by the people 
of Teach Scheme Project, about:

 1) Keep away from Machine Details (C/C++ is not enougth far from a 
beginer point of view in my student and teacher experience) and

 2) Focus on correctness instead of eficiency (focus on program desing).

and they key was the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Sintactically). 
Was really nice to see all the class having their first program working 
and understood. And the teach scheme project has a emphasis on learned 
oriented programming environments, so was nice to see programming seeing 
as a "liberal art" instead of something teached for programers by 
programers (in the same way that mathematics is not only for 
mathematicians). To make a long story short, then I probed python 
because it maintain the same K.I.S.S. principle and will be more like 
the program languages they will find or have found in the rest of ther 
studies. That was nice if all the people were students of informatics but...

This semester I have and eclectic group (the course was made an open 
one), people from biology, informatics, engeenering, nutrition, some of 
them are just starting their studies, some of them were finishing 
them... and scheme and python were not the solution for that group. The 
programming environment was "deprived"... was something like a "wordpad 
with sintactical hightlighting"... their motivations where different, so 
I need to appeal to a shared cultural background this time, and 
computers where nice multimedia, connected, feature rich machine for 
them. In that context Squek/Smalltalk was the answer. It provides a 
bridge from computers in the world to computers in the classroom, and 
different people were more motivated.

Now we need to start to make bridges from computers in the classrom to 
programming as a part of a scientific discipline and even part of life, 
and young children materials are not filling the gap for my students. We 
need to make a bridge between our classroom and your community... that's 
the reason why I'm here and I hope you help me.

>I also made the experience that people learn Smalltalk much faster,  
>when they have been introduced to EToys first.
Thanks for the advice. I will try to follow it, this week.

>Finally I have the feeling that the lack of technical questions/  
>discussions about Smalltalk on squeakland hindered the development of  
I feel that few bridges between communities are making education a 
mission impossible... but I have made a log mail already...



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