[plt-scheme] Re: [plt-edu] Should computer programming be mandatory

From: Matthias Felleisen (matthias at ccs.neu.edu)
Date: Tue Oct 14 14:25:08 EDT 2008

Two comments:

1. On the false dichotomy: HtDP's first three teaching languages are  
basically mathematics, ignoring the parentheses. We use
    -- arithmetic, for many different forms of data
    -- algebra, for (potentially conditional) function definitions
    -- pre-calculus, for induction and recursion (these things  
converge, like series)
Forgive me if I got the American names wrong for these subjects.

In short, when you 'program' HtDP reactive worlds and soon  
distributed worlds, you are solving mathematical problems and you are  
learning mathematics.

2. On learning a second language: I recently exchanged email with a  
mathematics professor at BYU who studies education. He had dug out  
large-scale  studies (involving an entire school district in  
Indianapolis and part of a second school district elsewhere) that  
compared high school students who took course in English plus Latin  
with those who took only English courses. In several standard tests  
on English, the English+Latin students outscored the English-only  
students by leaps and bounds. -- The effect carries over to other  
__formal__ instruction on second languages, but it isn't as large. (I  
felt pretty good after reading his write-up, because I had defended  
the study of a second language in the Houston school district many  
times on this basis, but had always been rejected.) --

If given the chance, I'd love to prove this conjecture for  
TeachScheme! at the same scale.

-- Matthias

On Oct 14, 2008, at 1:16 PM, Bruce Boyes wrote:

> At 09:21 10/14/2008, arkppp at comcast.net wrote:
>> Some food for thought....
>> http://weblog.infoworld.com/fatalexception/archives/2008/10/ 
>> mandatory_compu.html
> Interesting... yes I agree with the early statement in the HtDP  
> text that 'programming' (as defined in HtDP) should be a part of  
> every liberal arts education... not just for techies.
> Everyone should learn to think critically and apply algebra to  
> everyday problems.
> It's interesting reading some of the comments too. For example one  
> ready bemoans studying Latin, never "using" it later, and thus  
> "losing" it. I don't agree with that statement... no one speaks  
> Latin, or has for a few centuries, but it it's still the basis for  
> all the Romance languages - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ 
> Romance_languages - so you don't ever lose it or stop using it,  
> really.
> I actually enjoyed taking two years of Latin in high school (it was  
> not mandatory and in fact these were the last two years it was  
> offered...), which brings to mind this doggerel:
> Latin is a dead language
> Dead as dead can be!
> It killed off all the Romans
> And now it's killing me!
> Bruce
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