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Education Programming

Programming — Now Starting In Elementary School 162

Posted by timothy
from the deprogramming-starts-after-college dept.
the agent man writes "The idea of getting kids interested in programming in spite of their common perception of programming to be 'hard and boring' is an ongoing Slashdot discussion. With support of the National Science Foundation, the Scalable Game Design project has explored how to bring computer science education into the curriculum of middle and high schools for some time. The results are overwhelmingly positive, suggesting that game design is highly motivational across gender and ethnicity lines. The project is also finding new ways of tracking programming skills transferring from game design to STEM simulation building. This NPR story highlights an early and unplanned foray into bringing game-design based computer science education even to elementary schools."
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Programming — Now Starting In Elementary School

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  • by EmagGeek (574360) <(moc.loa) (ta) (hciretg)> on Sunday May 20, 2012 @01:57PM (#40058347) Journal

    I took programming in 3rd and 4th grades. In 3rd grade we started with logo, and then in 4th grade we started writing in BASIC.

    That was standard curriculum throughout the State back in the early 80s.

    • by gman003 (1693318) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @02:03PM (#40058401)

      Same - I was using Logo in 3rd grade, back in '96 or so. Loved that turtle.

      Weirdly, programming disappeared from my curriculum until high school, when I was started on Java. Of course, I taught myself in the mean time - Basic, C++, Java, and so on. Tried teaching myself assembly - did not go so well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I taught myself in the mean time

        That was very much the mode in those days.

        • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

          I taught myself in the mean time

          That was very much the mode in those days

          I do not know about "those days" or "these days", but, as far as I know, I've been teaching myself all these while, since early 1980's

          And it's still continuing

          If the kids "these days" do not know anything about "teaching themselves" skills that they need, I can only say that I feel sad for them

        • by mooingyak (720677)

          I taught myself in the mean time

          That was very much the mode in those days.

          Self taught also, as no classes were available for me until high school. I wonder if my experience is average?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EmagGeek (574360)

        I started teaching myself Fortran in 7th grade when I got my Ham Radio license and heard that it was the program of choice for modeling Antennas. Of course, I was not aware of this whole calculus thing, so I couldn't actually write my first antenna modeling program until 8th grade after my dad taught me calculus over the summer.

        Math is another subject we seriously need to accelerate. High School just doesn't teach enough Math, even in AP. High school graduates pursuing STEM degrees need to have a firm grasp

        • by steelyeyedmissileman (1657583) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @03:06PM (#40058703)

          Seriously-- there's no reason we shouldn't be teaching Algebra from the *very beginning*. I mean, come on.. what's the difference between 1 + _ = 2 and 1 + x = 2? You're figuring out the exact same thing!! The only reason I can think that we can't introduce Algebra from the start is that it scares the heck out of the teachers.

          • by oakgrove (845019)
            Agree completely. The high school math here in the states, I.e., algebra, trig, geometry and calculus is in no way "advanced" math and could be embarked upon years earlier. Advanced maths starts when you get into proofs IMO.
          • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @03:28PM (#40058837)

            Elementary math is memorization and learning a mechanical system of computing. Algebra relies more on symbolic thought.

            That said, I think that algebra could be taught a few years earlier. I remember seeing it for the first time in 8th grade and thinking, "Oh, wow, this is just like variables in BASIC!"

            • Elementary math is memorization and learning a mechanical system of computing.

              If you just drill in the procedure then yes. But I asked my daughter (6 years old in grade K) what 60 + 20 is. She didn't get it, but I asked things like "how many 10s in 60?" She said 6. I asked how may 10s in 20. She said 2. So I ask how many 10s in 80. She thinks, she then says 8. So what's 60 + 20. 80. This is all while we're driving somewhere, so no looking at numbers on paper or anything. If you think about it, adding 10's

              • I used pencils to teach algebra to my youger sister when she was trying to learn multiplication (that means, she was a bit older than 6). In the end, as I suspected, those procedures are way easier to grasp using algebra than directly memorizing the producs table.

                When I learned that, I used BASIC and discovered a few rules. But I didn't have a full grasp of algebra to help me.

            • Yeah I remember seeing Algebra for the first time in the 8th grade. And I remember my first thought, "My calculator doesn't have any letters on it!"

          • by gman003 (1693318)

            The only reason I can think that we can't introduce Algebra from the start is that it scares the heck out of the parents.

            FTFY

            A lot of the problem isn't the teachers - it's the dumbass parents who think "their babies" can't handle Shakespeare, or Al-gee-brah, or the history of any country that isn't 'MURICAH!

            Yeah, you can probably blame a bit of it on the teachers, and on the students, and quite a bit on the government's continual lack of funding and constant barrage of tests and requirements, but a lot of the problem comes from the dumbass parents.

            • by RightwingNutjob (1302813) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @05:03PM (#40059225)
              Lack of funding my ass. There's plenty of money to spend of laptops and HD projectors and electronic whiteboards and new sets of math textbooks with new sets of politically correct glossy pictures every other year. It ain't the money, it's the lack of an adult in the room to decree that it's the math that's important, not the glossy pictures. My dad showed me his 5th grade algebra textbook from 1950's Soviet Russia. The size of a DVD case, not a single picture, but all the math you need to learn in a simple package. And it probably would cost $20 to write, fact-check, print and distribute here in today's dollars.
              • by gman003 (1693318)

                Laptops? They barely had enough funding to get those for the teachers that needed them, never mind the students.

                "HD" projectors (ie. 1024x768) and electronic whiteboards I'll concede to, but they're also actually useful - teachers can write notes on the board and just *save* them. Sure beats the old transparencies, in any case, which were usually so faded and yellowed that they were barely legible. And it also simultaneously replaces the crappy TV-on-a-cart used for any videos. Sometimes "wasteful" spending

                • by MightyYar (622222)

                  I can't comment on your specific school district, but on average the US spends more per-pupal than just about any other country (I think we're number 2?). We rank far lower in achievement... money ain't the problem.

                  • Just because our per-pupil spending is high doesn't mean we spend a lot directly on each pupil. It just means we spend a lot, and then divide by the number of students. Much of the money appears to go to textbook publishers and administrators.

                    • by MightyYar (622222)

                      This is exactly my point - education in the US is not that great, but it's not because we are unwilling to fund the schools - in aggregate they are very well-funded.

                    • by MightyYar (622222)

                      It's not bullshit - we spend, as a nation, more than enough on education.

                      I don't claim to be an expert on education, and I don't know what's wrong with it. It could be that schools aren't funded in a fair manner. It could be that corruption is to blame. It could be that our incentive systems are all screwed up for teachers, parents, students, or all of them. But the simple fact is, throwing even more money at the schools is foolish. Spending more money than almost any other country, with fairly dismal resul

                    • I agree entirely, but organizing schools correctly is socialism. America can't have that!

          • My second grade teacher convinced me I could do algebra using essentially this example:
            . Teacher: How much is 1+1?
            Class: 2
            Teacher: if 1+x = 2, what's x?
            Class: 1
            Teacher: You're doing algebra.
            I was convinced. It wasn't until I hit my undergraduate group theory class that I started thinking maybe I can't really do algebra (but I repeated the class, group theory, that is, and convinced myself I really could do it)
          • by Thoguth (203384)

            Some curricula do exactly that. My kids have been using Miquon Math for years, and I was surprised to see the worksheets have exactly that type of 1 + _ = 2 problems, even in early grades.

        • High School just doesn't teach enough Math

          I wasn't aware that it taught math at all. Well, it teaches students how to memorize formulas, but that's about it. Let's try to improve schools before we "accelerate" any of the material.

          • by mooingyak (720677)

            High School just doesn't teach enough Math

            I wasn't aware that it taught math at all. Well, it teaches students how to memorize formulas, but that's about it. Let's try to improve schools before we "accelerate" any of the material.

            I remember sitting in my HS Calculus class, listening to the teacher explain a topic to the class that I already grasped. As she went over the specifics, I started to wonder why anyone would explain it that way. It was such a bizarre approach to the material. And then it hit me. She didn't actually understand what she was teaching, she had simply memorized it. It was a "This method will solve this problem for you. I don't know why though" approach. Rather unsettling experience.

      • by rrohbeck (944847)

        Modern CPUs are too complex to learn Assembly on them. I learned on an IMS6100, basically a single chip PDP-8. It had a RISC-y instruction set that you knew by heart within a week. Same thing a little later with the 6502. Even the 8086/8088 was tolerable. It started to get hairy with the 386. It's like C++: TIMTOWTDI and everybody uses a subset.
        I'd start learning on an emulated old 8-bitter, maybe a C64 emulator.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by OrangeTide (124937)

          amd64 is not too bad, it cleans up i386 stuff quite a bit. but ARM asm is where things get super easy. I don't understand why people are buying AVR and PIC microcontrollers, or why stuff like Arduino is popular, when an ARM microcontroller is as cheap and is easier to program. (yes, you can get a cortex-m0 for under $2 now)

        • ARM assembly is pretty clean. One rich addressing mode, orthogonal architecture, lots of GPRs. If I were teaching assembly, I'd start with ARM today.
      • Same - I was using Logo in 3rd grade, back in '96 or so. Loved that turtle.

        Cant help but feel that in all likelihood what they learn there has a good chance of being utterly redundant or irrelevant by the time they are old enough to make use of it. Why not instead teach them the kind of programming orientated maths and logic?

        • by gman003 (1693318) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @03:23PM (#40058797)

          No, it won't be "irrelevant", because it's some of the most fundamental elements of programming.

          Things I learned in that Logo class:
          variables and assignment
          IF-THEN-ELSE statements
          WHILE loops
          FOR loops
          GOTO
          Functions

          With the exception of that last one, what, really, is different in modern programming? I still use every one of those, every day, except the goto.

          The syntax is unimportant. The API is unimportant, as long as it's simple, and visual enough for a third-grader to "see" the results of his program. The important thing is teaching the basic programming elements. Hell, the important thing at that age is teaching that a computer is just a machine, that it's not some magic box. I've seen *adults* who can't grasp why a computer is doing what they told it instead of what they want.

          • by gman003 (1693318)

            Pre-emptively correcting myself before someone bitches at me: My "with the exception of that last one" was supposed to refer to the GOTO - I added Functions to the list while revising.

      • Logo and Basic (Apple IIE) around 3rd grade was my start as well. :)

      • Art of Assembly [mac.com]

        I taught myself Assembly before I took the class at the university. I really enjoyed the original draft of the book.

    • Ditto. Add one more person who did this in the late 80s / early 90s in elementary school.
    • In the Philadelphia public schools in the early 90's, 2nd and 3rd graders would have computer class with Apple 2e's 1-2 hrs a week, and LOGO was the tool of choice to teach programming. Loops, subroutines, conditionals, everything. And then it disappeared, only to be echoed weakly with the occasional 10-line TI calculator program in high school calculus.

      My thinking is that when you're talking about young kids, they'd be open to it, but the school district would have to have the funding, patience, and po
    • Yup, I'm another one. They had us do Logo when I was in the 6th or 7th grade in the early 80's. Still maybe if they get to the kids early enough they can teach them some good coding habits. (For instance yes, most of your functions should fit on the freaking screen. No, it's not a good idea to have functions that are several hundred if not several thousand lines long. Oh, and my favorite, DON'T CUT AND PASTE CODE THROUGH OUT YOUR PROGRAM! Write a function damn it.)
    • by stanlyb (1839382)
      You mean when? Some 20 years ago?
    • by phaserbanks (1977290) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @02:27PM (#40058523)

      Yup. Started BASIC in 3rd grade at public elementary school in Tampa. Fast forward today: I asked my son what they do in his computer class, and he said "we made a song in Garage Band". WTF

    • I took programming in 3rd and 4th grades. In 3rd grade we started with logo, and then in 4th grade we started writing in BASIC.

      That was standard curriculum throughout the State back in the early 80s.

      yes, WAS! Programming has been tried before, in some way or another, even in Elementary Schools. However, these programs did not stick. At the high school level there are some CS AP courses but in general they are doing quite terrible especially with female and minority students. At the middle school level there are very few programming related activities. At the elementary school level there is basically nothing in US schools.

      Unlike with the programming found in schools in the 80ies there is now some evid

    • by antdude (79039)

      Ditto. My parents signed me up for computer classes for BASIC. In sixth grade, I had a geek teacher, Mr. Mangel (is he on /.?) who taught us Apple 2 LOGO. He even had an awesome robotic turtle, like a slow plotter, that drew on big papers! That was radical/rad. :)

    • by CliffH (64518)
      About the same for me as well. We had a TRS-80 in class and learned on that in 2nd Grade (in '82). First it was copying down what was in the book, then basic problem solving along the lines of "What's missing in this line". I should have really kept going with it but by the time I was 12 I was completely and utterly fed up with it. That's when I switched to music. :) Of course, nowadays I pay the bills doing the usual admin and network engineering I would say a lot of us do and try not to get anywhere near
    • by Dracos (107777)

      I started in 4th grade on an Apple ][e in 1985. I was the first kid in the class to figure out how to do animation, as a result of a bug in my code.

    • by Kensai7 (1005287)

      Amazing as it sounds, I had the same experience in backwards Greece in the early nineties. LOGO and BASIC in 4th and 5th grade (elementary school has six grades in us). So why the news?

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      For me it wasn't standard curriculum, but we did have around 5 Commodore 64s in grades 5 and 6, and probably about half the class took the opportunity to learn C64 BASIC. It helped that we could to some degree control our learning in that class... not everyone is so lucky.

    • by fongaboo (813253)
      What state? We had Commodore PETs in 3rd grade in 1983. Granted it was part of a 'Gifted and Talented' program and not my regular class curriculum. We programmed in BASIC.
    • by gatzke (2977)

      Back in the TRS 80 / Sinclair days, you generally had to copy games from a magazine into the basic interpreter. Not really programming, but you learned something from it.

      I also took a few courses in elementary school, but did not program anything for real until middle / high school.

      After judging FLL Middle School robotics for a while, the lack of anything on the programming side scares me a lot. They all seem to use very simple programs without any real structure or even sensor feedback. It worries me.

    • by smash (1351)
      Ditti. We started with LOGO...
    • by Quirkz (1206400)
      We got logo in the 5th grade, and a repeat in the 6th grade. I loved it, but thinking back I think my biggest obstacle wasn't learning programming itself, but struggling with typing. I can remember figuring out in a few seconds what I *wanted* the program to do, and then taking tens of minutes painfully putting down the text and going back to fix typing errors. It wasn't until I got a typing class in high school that I finally got good enough that typing wasn't painfully slow, and not really until college w
  • by imbusy (1002705) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @02:00PM (#40058377)
    It would be interesting to see how many of us started out wanting to make a game/some graphics demo and then learning how to do it compared to some other motivation for learning programming. I started out that way myself.
    • by zmughal (1343549)
      My initial motivation was learning about fractals, so, in a way, it was about building a graphics demo. However, I soon got into figuring out how to get my computer and graphing calculator to do my mathematics homework. That was where I learnt about breaking things down into fundamental abstractions.
    • It's a running joke among many of my friends that every student in Computer Science got into the field to make video games, though most of them won't admit that publicly.

  • by ei4anb (625481) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @02:06PM (#40058415)
    I help out at the local CoderDojo, it's like a youth club and we show them everything from Scratch through HTML & Javascript up to developing Android apps (for the older kids). The company I work for just donated 100 old laptops to allow kids without their own (or parents) laptop to take part.

    Here's what it looks like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMODHilE4qk [youtube.com]

  • great thing to get kids interested in early, so by the time they reach working age, there wont be job..

    • Just because the hardware's made in China (we'll see how long that lasts, but that's another issue) doesn't mean the software can be. Software in many cases can't be one-size-fits all. Whether your business is sufficiently different that the off-the-shelf accounting or inventory software doesn't quite cut it or you want your web page to look *just right* and don't feel like playing email tag with some minimum wage drone 12 hrs away from your time zone, there will always be a need to people right here who kn
      • by bmo (77928)

        Just because the hardware's made in China (we'll see how long that lasts, but that's another issue) doesn't mean the software won't be

        Fixed.

        Manufacturing has headed to China. And engineering has been moving with it. Somehow the software won't?

        You're delusional and whistling by the graveyard.

        --
        BMO

        • by Anonymous Coward

          And the United States is doomed, we should all lay down and slowly starve.

          What does this kind of thinking actually accomplish?

          China is doing very well, the US can too. We have a ton of exceptionally smart, talented people, and we need positive, forward thinking attitudes to keep them interested. Imagine the typical high school student mildly interested in computer science reading this discussion right now. What kind of message are you sending? You're basically telling him to abandon all hope and go into the

          • by bmo (77928) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @03:26PM (#40058813)

            And the United States is doomed

            We are, unless things drastically change in politics and the boards of corporations. This is a matter of facts on the ground. It's not open to debate. It's happening.

            we should all lay down and slowly starve.

            We won't have any choice if things don't change.

            We have been handing technology, as a society, to the Chinese for decades now, with the delusional belief that all the high-end stuff will still happen here. I believe it started with Voc-Ed being a place to dump the "dummy" students. This is how I believe we lost the skills to make anything here - that we systematically decided that making anything = sweatshop and if you were smart, you didn't go into manufacturing, ever. We denigrated actual work for decades and anyone who worked in a factory making anything was therefore just some dumb monkey. And you can replace monkeys on one side of the planet with monkeys from another side. That's the thinking that got us here.^1

            But transferring the manufacturing base over to China makes it inconvenient for the engineering and software to happen here, so guess where it's going to move.

            Go ahead, guess.

            Engineers and scientists are already moving to Shanghai.

            Unless we stop the haemorrhaging and start building up our own manufacturing base here encouraging students to go into STEM without learning Chinese is a joke and a half.

            But I don't see that happening any time soon.

            --
            BMO

            Postscript: I was looking at a Popular Mechanics from the 1950s and there was articles that went on for pages on how to use a shaper and a tip on how to turn a taper using ball bearings instead of ordinary conical centers , and it was just *there* as if machining was a skill that many people had. You don't publish an article in a popular magazine where you deliberate write over the heads over your readers or write something they don't care about. It was expected that the readers of the 1954 Popular Mechanics^2 would find this stuff applicable. Today you would *never* find such an article in a mainstream magazine such as that.

            Footnotes:

            1. The war on work: http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_rowe_celebrates_dirty_jobs.html [ted.com]

            The first half goes on about castrating sheep. But that's the set-up for the second half, so watch the whole thing.

            2. http://books.google.com/books?id=Nt8DAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA126&dq=1954%20Popular%20Mechanics&pg=PA234#v=onepage&q&f=true [google.com]

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Alright, you make some good points, but I'd argue that manufacturing jobs are leaving center stage anyway.

              Look around, we build factories that require a tenth of the labor they used to. We build entire shipping centers that are more or less automated. I'm not sure that we really need manufacturing anymore. If anything China is serving as an excellent stop-gap to ease the transition to a much different kind of society.

              I mean, when you get down to it, the problem is really that the amount of product per singl

              • by bmo (77928)

                1. Not everyone can be an engineer.
                2. An engineer who does not how to manufacture is a pretty fuckin' poor engineer and makes it painful for everyone else who has to deal with his shit downstream.

                --
                BMO

              • by gr8_phk (621180)
                Manufacturing is still important. You can't design products without knowing details of how they will be manufactured. Well you can try, but there is an interplay between physical product, electrical circuits, software, and manufacturing process. Even the MBA over at HBR are writing about how new products can not be created in the US. The classic example is thin films - which are in an ever increasing number of things from batterys to OLED displays and touch screens and much more. The problem is we outsource
            • Engineering can go to China, but science won't (not for a while). Nobody trusts Chinese or Indian publications and institutions not to be rampantly fraudulent.

              • by bmo (77928)

                "Those Japanese will never make a car as good as the Americans."

                ---
                BMO

                • Normally I would agree with you (I certainly do on manufacturing). However, scientific honesty is a matter of culture and values. The impact factor on Chinese publications won't go up until they start to deemphasize quantity of publications in favor of fewer, better publications.

                  American science has actually been suffering the same problem and, presto change-o, has suddenly acquired a reputation for being fraudulent or unreliable on "certain subjects".

                  • by bmo (77928)

                    One point I tried hammering home indirectly in my other posts was that the Chinese are going to adopt western-style scientific research and engineering whether they want to or not. Whether *we* want them to or not. The Japanese and Koreans went through the same growing pains. To expect the Chinese to be somehow oblivious/stupid is hubris on our part. They are just people, after all, just like us.

                    "'What one monkey can do, another can' - Ancient Simian Proverb" - Calculus Made Easy by Sylvanus P. Thompson

                    • You're missing my point. The incentive structure is lacking for Chinese scientists to adopt the values and methods of Western science. They simply aren't paid for high-quality studies with replicable results and high impact. They're paid to pump out papers and get cited, as much as possible. Instead of Chinese scientists adopting the Western way, both Chinese and Western scientists have been adapting the ultra-capitalist way: quantity over quality in a competition to the death.

                      You'll have to resocialize

                    • by bmo (77928)

                      I'm going to have to agree with you on that. I'm not sure about the scale, but publish-or-perish has led to a lot of junk papers.

                      --
                      BMO

                • All I can say is that Chevy's have had all-electronic throttle since the 90's and not a one of them magically accelerated of its own accord.
        • Manufacturing has headed to China. And engineering has been moving with it. Somehow the software won't?

          The whole "outsourcing to cheaper labor countries" is only temporary, it will sort itself out eventually. Either salaries rise in China, or they drop at our end. At that point, producing near consumption starts to make sense again.

          Sure, it might get nasty in between...

          • by bmo (77928)

            "might" is a pretty big understatement.

            Put it this way, unless you have people who can afford your products, your products are not going to get bought. And captains of industry in the US have been ignoring this obvious fact stated in plain terms by Henry Ford himself. Manufacturing isn't always the largest part of the economy, but it drives a lot of other industries in parallel with it.

            Germany has always had a decent manufacturing base, and at this last downturn, they are still the strongest economy in Eu

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Sure, there will be some people left coding, but in a practical sense the days are limited that makes its a viable career choice.

        For most people canned software is 'good enough' and RAD tools are getting to the point even a non programmer can create something usable on modern hardware. ( great, no, but usable ).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Shrinking market? Do you live in a mayonnaise jar? Right now there's a severe shortage of people who are competent at programming, and there's no reason this will decrease in the near term as we move more and more stuff online.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Right now there's a severe shortage of people who are competent at programming, and there's no reason this will decrease in the near term as we move more and more stuff online.

        if there is a shrinking number of competent programmers, why are networking groups filed with them? could it be that they are over 40, out of work for more than 3 months, no tattoos and have families? yes, there are also rans but I've found people with talent and wisdom within 15 minutes of working the room, people that I would have hired when I was a hiring manager.

        employers need to try different modes of working. for example I'm looking to find a part time gig (contract) where I can trade rate for lear

      • So much of a shortage that they want ten years experience in things that have only existed for five, fluent Maltese and Latvian, grade three piano and ideally Scorpio or Sagittarius. Left handers only.

    • Learning to program offers much more to kids than the possibility of a future job.
    • there wont be job anywhy for dikked who writing like you

    • How do you mean "there wont be job"? I thought elementary school was for giving kids a basic set of knowledge and skills, not to train them for any specific line of work. Programming teaches analytic thinking, logic, and gives some insight into how computers work and what sort of things they can and cannot do for you. These are useful skills to have in life, even if you don't actually end up developing software for a living.

    • by gr8_phk (621180)

      great thing to get kids interested in early, so by the time they reach working age, there wont be job..

      The only jobs left are high-end jobs that require a LOT of training - doctors, dentists, lawyers, therapists - and the job of automating everything else. Believe it, the automators are going after those other occupations over the next several decades too. It's going to take a long time.

    • Ok, let's forget that this is elementary school, where kids learn every kind of stuff that will make them adults, not professionals.

      You mean, there won't be a market? Why would that be the case? Computers will be less usefull? People won't have enough money to pay (and computers won't be usefull for the production of basic goods)? Is there a third possibility I'm not aware of?

  • by whizbang77045 (1342005) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @02:51PM (#40058625)
    Society seems to treat programming as though it were something mystical. In fact, it is simply learning how to think and express oneself logically, using a very basic (no pun intended) language. How is this different than learning how to read and write English effectively? We expect too many things to be hard, so we make them hard by our attitudes.
  • by RichMan (8097) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @02:58PM (#40058661)

    Programming is not special. Programming is the literacy of problem solving.
    Facing a required task and then using known tools to construct a method the achieve the required task in logical steps.

    There should be less emphasis on "programming" and more on general problem solving. Learning the general method is better than learning the specific method until you need to become as master of the specific method.

    Programming can be one aspect of teaching problem solving because programming is very structured. However problem solving skills in general need to raised a lot higher than general grade school level before real programming can be done.

    • by Phroggy (441)

      Yes. This.

      Programming isn't an end to itself. Programming is a means to an end, and it's a lot of fun to pick an end and find a means to it. Kids need to learn that using their brains is fun, whether that means programming or something else.

  • I took BASIC in the summer between fourth and fifth grade. It was the summer before the TRS-80 and the Apple ][ were widely available, so we learned on the instructor's home-built ALTAIR. Storage was on paper tape. OK, so it wasn't standard curriculum (although it was held at a public school, it was privately arranged with the instructor volunteering his time). But just four years after that, The Math Box [pqarchiver.com] put Atari 800's in every Fairfax County school. Rumor has it that salesman made $80,000 commission
  • So, maybe soon a kid can finally fix the RSS feed? It's XML, not HTML :-(
  • All you know you just a
            another block of the Code!

  • More fresh meat for the game companies who need armies of overworked and underpaid programmers.

  • I question using agentsheets (tm), at a cost of $45 to $99 a license when open source solutions like Squeak and BYOB are available for free.
    This appears to be more an "enrichment" program for the owners of agentsheets.
    What a great way to spend scarce funding.
  • I started programming before I understood what the words and symbols I was typing did. I was about 5 yrs old.
    I didn't even understand written English. I just typed in what I read in a book.
    Then I graduated to Print rockets.
    Once I learned what IF/THEN did when I was 12, I felt the world open up.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

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