[squeakland] criticism (was: Learnable Programming)

Jecel Assumpcao Jr. jecel at merlintec.com
Mon Nov 12 14:44:54 EST 2012

I have just watched the talk "It's Not You, It's Them: Why Programming
Languages Are Hard To Teach" by Zed A. Shaw and he is very critical of
Bret Victor's ideas, and also mentioned "Squeak Toys" and Scratch as
examples of fallacies.

> http://oredev.org/2012/sessions/its-not-you-its-them-why-programming-languages-are-hard-to-teach

Though I disagree with nearly everything he says, it was still an
interesting talk. I think that in many cases he subtly misunderstood
some concepts. His complaint about the lack of formal studies, on the
other hand, is entirely valid.

An example of his misunderstanding: he shows Bret saying "if a
programmer can't see something, then she can't understand it". Zed then
complains about mixing text and drawings and using rectangles as a
problem domain while the important things are concepts like "for". I am
with Bret on this one: if a person can't "see" how a "for" works, they
won't understand it. Most people who get good at programming as it is
now can see it perfectly in their own heads. Having a visual
representation animated on the screen will help the other people. Zed
just ignored the first case of seeing and says the second case is a
fallacy because "normal" people have trouble switching between
linguistic and visual modes.

-- Jecel

More information about the squeakland mailing list