[racket] "The Disadvantages of High School Programming"

From: Richard Cleis (rcleis at mac.com)
Date: Thu Jun 10 14:38:05 EDT 2010

On Jun 10, 2010, at 11:41 AM, Raoul Duke wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM, Joe Marshall <jmarshall at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
>> That's the problem.  Maybe it shouldn't be the case.  Variations on this
>> statement are alarming:
>> ``It's quite possible to be a productive and successful physician
>> without having a
>> solid understanding of medicine.''
> i work in the video game world, so i see another side to this: It is
> quite possible for an artist to be productive and successful without
> having a solid understanding of material science.

Only a small part of programming is a solo activity, and individual programmers who demonstrate outstanding success rely on the successes of a technology that began with mathematics and the imagination of people who couldn't even know what a computer would eventually be. It seems to me that the 'trick' of early education is to allow students to feel what discovery is like (painting without knowing the materials science that provides understanding of how paint works), yet keep them aware of others in the vast pool of humans that made their newest discovery possible (the invention, manufacture, and delivery of paint to the artist's brush).

The argument here seems to be about the education of all individual programmers, but success is derived from groups.  Each group of programmers should benefit from at least some colleagues with deeper understanding than many 'Moby Hackers', and the others in the group need to occasionally believe things and accept decisions that they aren't actually required to understand.  If high school computer education doesn't at least hint to students that there is much more to programming than learning a few patterns and repeating them until retirement, then we will forever be hearing about expensive, time consuming failures of software projects.

Racketeeringly yours,


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