Archive/Current Events/2012-10-06

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Sugar Digest

Saw this quote by William Faulkner that I couldn't resist tampering with: "I believe that [an educated] man will not merely endure: he will prevail."

1. The New York Times ran an article on the front page of its business section on Monday about a handful of Microsoft engineers who are tutoring high school students in Seattle in order to spark their interest in computer science and engineering. Nothing wrong with that, but it is certainly not a "man bites dog" story. How does it scale? And perhaps more important, does it really have impact when you only begin your intervention at high school? In contrast, Estonia has a national program in programming that begins with first grade: “We want to change thinking that computers and programs are just things as they are. There is an opportunity to create something, and be a smart user of technology.” Not news "fit to print" in the Times, but I'm betting the Estonia program will have real and lasting impact.

2. If my assertion is correct, then we need to ask how best to teach programming to children. Bert Freudenberg sent an article by Bret Victor to the Sugar mailing list about "designing programming systems for understanding programming." Victor argues that "the goals of a programming system should be:"

  • to support and encourage powerful ways of thinking"
  • to enable programmers to see and understand the execution of their programs"

He contrasts this with the tutorial approach taken by the high-profile Kahn Academy. While neither Etoys or Turtle Art currently support all of the affordances recommended by Victor, the vector is pointed in the right direction.

In the community

3. There are plans to hold the next OLPC SF summit in San Francisco the weekend of October 19-21. We are holding a Sugar Camp following the summit (Oct 22-24).

Tech Talk

4. I have an OLPC XO 4.0 beta machine. What fun.

Sugar Labs

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