Control? Object?

Richmond richmondmathewson at
Mon Jun 20 13:40:19 EDT 2016

On 20.06.2016 19:58, Mark Waddingham wrote:
> On 2016-06-20 16:38, Richmond wrote:
>> Thank you very much indeed for the comprehensive reply.
>> I shall deal with the children's confusion by using neither 'object'
>> or 'control' and
>> just refer to buttons, fields and so on.
>> I know this is dodging the issue; but I can see no other way round it
>> at the moment.
> That seems entirely reasonable!
> At the end of the day it is no different from the techniques I've 
> observed myself being used used to teach many other 
> what-you-might-call 'technical' disciplines
> In Mathematics, we are taught 'Calculus' as almost a purely symbolic 
> mechanism 

At Durham, the head of Philosophy in 1984 (Dr P.J.Fitzpatrick) a 
brilliant, mad and lovely man, lined
up a series of wine glasses filled to various depths with wine, and 
started tapping tunes out on them,
and if I understand anything about Calculus and Curves, it is down to 
his explanation, which
contextualised it in a way quite unlike our poor benighted Maths teacher 
at school who could
neither control teenage boys nor explain Calculus in any sort of way 
that made sense.

And, certainly, with the 8-14 year old crowd, 'symbolic', 'theoretical' 
and 'metaphorical' are
very dirty words indeed.

> first (usually at age 17-18 in the UK) which comes with a whole load 
> of 'edge cases' you just have to accept and then only in later years 
> is it 're-explained' based on the epsilon-delta arguments of 
> 'Analysis' (usually at first year degree level). (Amusingly I remember 
> having real trouble getting my head around the idea of epsilon-delta 
> arguments - my head had been so entrenched in the computably finite 
> world of computing at that point that 'tending to a limit' seemed a 
> somewhat impossible notion).

I still haven't got my head round basic Calculus: and, oddly enough, 
have managed to make my way
in the world without having managed it.

One thing I have never quite understood is why it seems to be assumed 
that to program computers
(or, perhaps, we should say "programme computers" to keep Jerry Jensen's 
teeth grinding) one has to
have a fairly advanced knowledge of Maths, when all that seems to be 
necessary is a spot of basic
BODMAS (Brackets, Of, Divide, Multiply, Add, Subtract) and elementary LOGIC.

> Similarly, I remember my first A-level Chemistry class (age 17) where 
> we were told - "all you have been told up until now has been 'lies'" 
> in particular with relation to the structure of the atom and bonding.

Indeed: I remember our Chemistry teacher telling us to forget 
"valencies" and start
learning about "oxidation states". In fact I remember getting sent out 
of the room because I,
inevitably, asked the obvious question: "If all you've taught us before 
is lies, why should we not assume
that what you are about to teach us is not another load of the same?"

Poor old Dr Lewis . . . while he had a doctorate from Sheffield in 
Non-Ferrous Metallic
something-or-others, he kept getting all those organic synthesis cycles
badly wrong, and he was totally useless when it came to working with 
adolescent boys.

As my father said: "Anyone with a doctorate in Chemistry who ends up 
teaching in a
secondary school . . ."

Well; I don't have a doctorate, and have no great academic pretensions; 
but what I do know
is that explaining things that computer programming involves to the 
middle-school crowd is
not particularly easy.

Probably the fancy academic qualifications are less important than an 
ability to enthuse young people
and communicate sufficient concepts to get them going.

As to "edge cases" . . . Ha, Ha, Ha; I could make a fairly offensive 
remark here; but won't, as,
necessarily, I'd have to include myself in that category :-)

Thanks, as always, for your support and your well thought-out replies.

Best, Richmond.

> Warmest Regards,
> Mark.

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