[squeakland] criticism (was: Learnable Programming)

Guzdial, Mark guzdial at cc.gatech.edu
Mon Nov 12 13:51:20 EST 2012

Jecel, you may be confounding two things:
- Having a mental model: "seeing" a FOR loop in one's mind.
- Seeing a visual representation of something like a FOR loop.

There's some research in the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center
(SILC, http://www.spatiallearning.org) that suggests that we encourage
more of the former by doing less of the latter.  A bad visual
representation can actually lead you astray.  Sketching and gesture may be
more effective at encouraging the development of internal representations.

I blogged on Bret Victor's excellent essay here:
about-programming-languages-and-systems-in-a-new-way/  My concern is about
the things that aren't easily translated into a visual form, like user
input in the future and the Internet.

Thank you for the Shaw link!


On 11/12/12 2:44 PM, "Jecel Assumpcao Jr." <jecel at merlintec.com> wrote:

>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.
>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
>squeakland mailing list
>squeakland at squeakland.org

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