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Re^2: Teaching Children How to Program

by Sandy (Curate)
on Nov 14, 2005 at 14:17 UTC ( #508318=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Teaching Children How to Program
in thread Teaching Children How to Program

Thank you for your comments.

The students have a computer room at the school, where they are allowed free accesss before and after school, and at lunch time, as long as they make an appointment.

I'm still not sure if they have internet access at the school.

For those kids with home computers, I prepared a 'take-home' package with ActivePerl and CrimsonEdit (opensource and freeware).

Strangely enough, one of the earliest discussions about this course was money. The home and school association wanted to charge for it. I, however, refused to teach the course if they charge money. The kids at this school come from a wide variety of economic conditions, and I hate the idea of some kid wanting to take the course, but not being able to.

OT: I'm not familiar with the 'No Child Left Behind' politics. How does that interfere with expanding childrens' horizons?


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Re^3: Teaching Children How to Program
by samizdat (Vicar) on Nov 14, 2005 at 15:19 UTC
    Sandy, I am glad you refused to take money for the course. I am bothered by how much the schools expect to extract more money on top of what they get from taxes, although I am also seeing how little preparation and outside education many parents send their kids to school with. My five year old is reading as well as most second-graders, but other kindergarten kids can't even recognize thirty-six letters and numbers. It's a tough situation, and I certainly can't blame most teachers. None of the kids are dumb, they just haven't been exposed to anything useful.

    NCLB has an admirable (stated) goal, but, like most political solutions, it's abysmally stupid in both mandate and execution. It's all about testing and success in the artificial world of performing well on the test. The school where we worked is one where many kids come from dysfunctional homes and low expectations. The school's administration has been replaced by one which accepts the "reality" of the importance of scoring well on the tests, and so, many classes are now geared towards teaching children the tricks of how to get high scores on rigidly defined tests. These tricks are of questionable utility in any other context.

    Even before NCLB, much public school time was taken up with rote learning and repetition. {or worse, administrative crapola!} With very little research, you will discover the fact that this mode of education produces only short-term benefit, leading to the cycle of learn-test-forget-repeat which we all remember. Far better methodologies exist, but there are many political reasons why Skinner's methods trump Piaget's and Montessori's in the world of "public" education.

    Public education's goal is to reinforce the status quo, because the real customers aren't the children, but the government. This is not a call to become cynical, but, rather, a reality which must be dealt with. Most teachers and most parents will not accept the results produced by the system we are saddled with, and so, there is always room to find a way to make a difference. Make the most of the opportunity you have, and let us all know what you discover!

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