[plt-scheme] Re: HTDP - evidently not for everyone.

From: wooks (wookiz at hotmail.com)
Date: Wed Feb 10 08:31:37 EST 2010

On Feb 10, 1:49 am, Shriram Krishnamurthi <s... at cs.brown.edu> wrote:
> Finally, it is unclear what the point is.  
> Should we administer the
> exam and toss out all the students who fail it?

I took the point to be the last sentence in the abstract

"We point out that programming teaching is useless for those who are
bound to fail and pointless for those who are certain to succeed"

It suggests the existence of a "programming gene" which determines
which camp a person falls into.

I absolutely agree that there are people for whom trying to teach
programming is futile.  but the idea of not teaching those who have
seems somewhat ridiculous.

> That would certainly
> be a good idea.  For that matter, we can clearly administer this exam
> earlier (say at age 14 or 15, when students are old enough to clearly
> understand the problem statement).  Should we suggest that students
> who fail this (or a similar test) skip algebra entirely?  That way we
> can save them from wasting their time in a technical discipline.  But
> maybe one could find similar "predictive" tests for writing; maybe
> those students should be excused from writing courses.  Even better:
> it ought to be possible to find such a test for reading (after all,
> natural languages are also meaningless formal systems with arbitrary
> and inconsistent rules).  We could keep such students out of school
> entirely, to save everyone's time!

I share skepticism on the efficacy of the test they claim, but not on
their conclusion that some people will never be able to program no
matter how much effort you devote to teaching them. The biggest
obstacle that I have observed is an inability to see that the problem
you have presented them is an instance of one you've shown them before
and hence how then to exploit this knowledge.

In essence it is an inability to abstract - at least in the domain of
programming problems.

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