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Re: Teaching Perl to Children

by Theo (Priest)
on May 26, 2004 at 14:36 UTC ( #356592=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Teaching Perl to Children

Before 7th and 8th grade, children have a lot of trouble with abstract thinking - they are much better at concrete thinking. My wife teaches algebra to 8th graders. To get into the class, they have to pass an "Algebra Aptitude test". To see if they have the required abstract thinking ability. About 1/3 will pass the test.

I would think that programming would require a similar abstract ability, so you'll have to be careful either with the content or with student selection.

When you get it up and running though, I bet it will be a lot of fun!

-Theo-
(so many nodes and so little time ... )


Comment on Re: Teaching Perl to Children
Re: Re: Teaching Perl to Children
by eric256 (Parson) on May 26, 2004 at 15:05 UTC

    That seems a bit crazy if you ask me. I was programming logo in 5-6th grade and i'll bet that plenty of people here where doing something similar at young ages. I understand not everyone did, but then most people still don't. Making a blanket statment like "Before 7th and 8th grade, children have a lot of trouble with abstract thinking" seems ridiculous to me. I understand you probably didn't mean "all children", but here we start algebra (exponents, variables, equations, etc) in 6th grade and i think many of us certainly could have handled it ealier than that. Hmm seems my rant lost steam somehwere in there. Anyway i think people should have more faith in our childrens ability and desire to learn and cultivate it with projects like this. That teacher who started us on algebra in 6th grade also started me on LOGO and BASIC in 5th grade and had us all going to musicals and reading books that "6th graders wouldn't understand".

    Sorry for the off topic rant, to bring it back, i think such a book would be excellent and perl is an excellent language to get your feet wet with. Oh and I hate when people say "xth grader's wouldn't understand that" in case you didn't notice.


    ___________
    Eric Hodges
      here we start algebra (exponents, variables, equations, etc) in 6th grade

      My mom is an elementary school teacher. She's starting to teach this stuff (basic algebra concepts, e.g. variables and solving equations) to her 3rd grade class. I'm not sure how effective it is, but they're doing it. I know at least some of the kids are understanding. Just goes to reinforce your point, I guess.

      LOGO is a bit of a special case. The language was specifically designed for teaching young children how to program computers. In fact, I suggest that the OP consider teaching his child some LOGO before moving to Perl. It has several traits that make it an almost ideal learning language:

      -- The immediate visual feedback provided by the turtle's movements make LOGO programs more concrete than most programming languages. A diagram on a screen is much more staisfying (to me, anyway) than a line or two of text. Even if the text says "Hello, World!"

      -- It has a Lisp-like "functional" structure which makes building a program out of re-usable pieces easy and natural.

      -- It makes math, particularly geometry, relevent and therefore interesting. Indeed, teaching mathematical concepts through programmuing was one of the design goals.

      I had instruction in LOGO for a few hours a week from 4th through 6th grade. I loved it, and I think it's a much more worthwhile use of computer time in school than word processing or (God forbid) typing lessons. There are free LOGO interpreters for just about every PC operating system in existence, and there are several excellent books for teachers. Unfortunately, very few elementry teachers seem to have heard of it, and even fewer feel competent to teach it.* LOGO deserves to be far better known than it now is.

      _____________
      -- Fuzzy Frog

      *based on a limitted sample of personal conversations.

        I grew up with BASIC on an Apple //c, but there was a LOGO tutorial on one of the disks. It didn't get too deep, and I never found a way to get at a full-fledged interpreter that was useful outside the tutorial. My third-grade math course did actually spend a few weeks on LOGO.

        Some day, I'll have to see about making a Mindstorms robot that is sent the compiled output from a LOGO program to draw on a real piece of paper, just like the old Tortise machines.

        ----
        send money to your kernel via the boot loader.. This and more wisdom available from Markov Hardburn.

      Hi, eric256.
      My wife teaches LOGO to her 7th graders. (she can't start any younger 'cause 7th grade is the first time she has them) Our school is also introducing some of the elements of algebra in the lower grades as other posters have said. The earlier that starts, the more time the children have to absorb and wrap their minds around the concepts. The statement "Before 7th and 8th grade, children have a lot of trouble with abstract thinking" was a generalization and no disrespect was intended to any age kids, some of whom are very capable. (Perhaps "they" will find that abstract thinking ability is something that can be nurtured and developed in much younger kids, if some effort is put into it.)

      The test my wife gives is intended to find those kids who are ready for the first year of high school algebra in the 8th grade. The ones who pass her "pre-algebra" test usually pass the course and do well in algebra 2 in high school.

      -Theo-
      (so many nodes and so little time ... )

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