[OT] Teaching methodology

Mark Schonewille m.schonewille at economy-x-talk.com
Wed Aug 12 08:51:44 EDT 2015

1) A course can be systematic yet playful. The teacher needs to stick to 
a number of principles and a plan, but the children should just have fun 
and learn something.

2) When I create software, I do this with the skills I already possess. 
When I run into a problem, I enhance my skills until I can solve the 
problem. As a programmer, I am always ready to learn something new. If 
it is required to solve the problem, I'll learn a (to me) entirely new 

3) Programmers want to work efficiently. If they decide to invest time 
into learning something new, they are already out of their comfort zone. 
However, if this is about the parents of the children you teach, you 
have a problem. These parents don't want to take the time to learn 
something new and they don't need to, but their children do.

Do people really think that the world may fall apart, if everybody could 
suddenly make their own programmes? Until the late 1980s, everybody was 
forced to figure out programming by himself, because a) there were no 
specialized schools for this and b) the internet was only barely available.

People went to computer clubs and everybody who was interested could not 
only make his or her own software, but also build his or her own 
computer! Did the world fall apart? No!

I think you need to convince the parents that the world has changed. Not 
only has programming become easier, programming is now everywhere in our 
daily life and has become a required skill. Not only because some people 
might want to become a "programmer", but also because people need to be 
able to understand an error message on the computer, think logically 
when programming the microwave or DVR/PVR/STB, and be careful and 
precise when entering a key on the website of their bank. It would be 
ludicrous to think that everyone first would have to learn C++ to 
acquire these skills.

I know a toddler who can't even talk yet, but uses pictures on a mobile 
phone to show what she likes to eat and then goes to Youtube to listen 
to her favourite music. In fact, I know several examples like this one. 
These people are not going to need programming languages the way we do 
now, but we need to offer them some framework within which they can 
develop their skills. 4GL's may offer this framework, together with 
Arduino's, Raspberry Pies, and who knows what else we'll see in the near 

Best regards,

Mark Schonewille

Economy-x-Talk Consulting and Software Engineering
Homepage: http://economy-x-talk.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/xtalkprogrammer
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On 8/12/2015 12:28, Richmond wrote:
> "Based on my experience with teaching programming to kids who already
> have some programming experience but are self-taught,
> I find that many of these self-taught programmers tend to focus on a
> very limited subset of one particular programming language
> and ignore the other, richer features because they have not had a
> systematic introduction to the language or to general principles
> of programming."
> That is a semi-quote from an acquaintance of mine trying to teach
> progging to High School kids in China.
> I would be grateful for lots of insight on my questions that stem from
> his statement.
> 1. Do children really need "a systematic introduction to the language or
> to general principles of programming" when it
> come to working with LiveCode?
> 2. Is this bit true in your experience of self-taught programmers:
> they "tend to focus on a very limited subset of one particular
> programming language
> and ignore the other, richer features"  ??
> 3. Id #2 is true have you any ideas on how to get self-taught
> programmers out of their "comfort zone"
> and leveraging other aspects of a programming language?
> Richmond.
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