On 4 September 2015 at 12:45, Steven D'Aprano wrote:
One argument against this proposal is that Python is not really designed
as a kid-friendly learning language, and we should just abandon that
space to languages that do it better, like Scratch. I'd hate to see that
argument win, but given our limited resources perhaps we should know
when we're beaten. Compared to what Scratch can do, turtle graphics are
so very 1970s.

Block based languages are to text based ones as picture books are to
the written word - to get the combinatorial power of language into
play, you need to be learning systems that have the capacity to be
self hosting. You can write a Python interpreter in Python, but you
can't write a Scratch environment in Scratch.

This is reflected in the way primary schools digital environment
curricula are now being designed - initial concepts of algorithms and
flow control can be introduced without involving a computer at all
(e.g. through games like Robot Turtles), then block based programming
in environments like Scratch introduce the use of computers in a way
that doesn't require particularly fine motor control or spelling

However, a common aspect I've seen talking to teachers from Australia,
the US and the UK is that the aim is always to introduce kids to the
full combinatorial power of a text based programming environment like
Python, since that's what unlocks the ability to use computers to
manipulate real world data and interfaces, rather than just a local
constrained environment like the one in Scratch.


Nick Coghlan | ncoghlan at gmail.com | Brisbane, Australia

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