[plt-scheme] Re: More pedagogic stuff

From: Matthias Felleisen (matthias at ccs.neu.edu)
Date: Tue Aug 12 11:06:10 EDT 2008

[A couple of comments before I go off-line and do some real work.]

On Aug 12, 2008, at 9:55 AM, David Einstein wrote:

> A month from now I am going to suffer the anual rant from my wife,  
> who teaches freshman English, on how the MCAS is ruining what few  
> skills her students might have had.

I find the complaining about tests like the MCAS and the TEKS plain  
bogus. It's another excuse from the teacher lobby. -- I grew up in a  
hard-core testing environment that makes SAT and MCAS and TEKS look  
like silly little distractions. My son has taken the MCAS and it is  
truly *minimal* competence. I recommend you buy your wife a copy of  
"Let's Kill Dick and Jane" -- it is the TeachScheme! story stretched  
over 35 years, started by a Chemical Engineer in the 1960s who just  
couldn't believe how bad US schools were back then. He had spent a  
year in Europe or Germany or somewhere with his wife and child. He  
then decided to use his money to improve K8 curricula with  
engineering methods. If I had read this history before, I would have  
never started this project (and would be poorer for it).

;; ---

> I think that the future lies in making things like HDTP, DrScheme,  
> and Squeak available to students and/or schools, and letting them  
> use then individually, or in groups.

This has been tried in many different settings and it doesn't work  
for the "average" child. Sure, we would like to attract the good ones  
and the brilliant, The goal though is to broaden the appeal of CS and  
to use it as a lever to get kids to understand plain math.

> On Aug 12, 2008, at 10:33 AM, Shriram Krishnamurthi wrote:
>> On the one hand, it's good: they'll come to college, see real CS,  
>> and say "Wow, this is totally different, and it's worth doing".   
>> But the loss is those who never try it out at all in college.

Let me rephrase this. In a sense, we would all be better off if kids  
came w/ just a solid knowledge of English and Mathematics. Then  
again, look at Engineering disciplines. Students get very little  
exposure to this stuff, lack the Mathematics and English to go into  
these areas, don't even have any curiosity about them, and the result  
is a dearth of engineering students at the mid-range college levels.

;; ---

> Well, quasi self directed,  the Navy did possess motivational  
> techniqes that the average high school teacher or college professor  
> can only dream of with the blackest part of his or her heart.

Right after I arrived at NU, some newspaper reported on an Australian  
swim coach's new trick for making his swimmers go faster. (I was a  
swim coach in Germany for a few years, so I was curious and read the  
article.) The coach added ... crocodiles to the those lanes where  
swimmers didn't live up to their potential. He taped up their snouts  
(mouths?) of the animals so that they wouldn't bite. While my wife  
thinks its animal abuse (because of the chlorine), my dean and I  
think that putting such animals into certain offices around here  
would be great, even if not legal :-)

-- Matthias

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