[plt-scheme] Teaching Scheme

From: Samuel Williams (space.ship.traveller at gmail.com)
Date: Mon May 3 11:39:10 EDT 2010

Dear Neil,

Thanks for your interesting comments. It certainly requires clarification since the situation in New Zealand is primarily centered around the curriculum and how it is changing. There is a new "Digital Technologies" curriculum in the works for New Zealand schools;

There is no mandated programming language - teachers are free to choose whatever they wish depending on the task at hand. The curriculum is very "task" oriented - such as make an interactive website, or produce a database, etc. These are the assessment tasks that teachers are required to meet. Regardless of how I feel about the validity of this approach, this is the kind of situation we are in right now. Hopefully the new curriculum (coming into force some time this year for next year), will fix some of these problems.

I personally feel that it isn't the tools and the assessments that define the student's experience and success but the teacher and how they inspire the students.  In this respect we should empower teachers to learn and teach with enthusiasm and expertise, regardless of the curriculum and tools. I have to admit that the classes that I was most successful in was the one where the teacher inspired me to work hard. That is my experience.

The reason why I think teaching MS Office and Visual Basic is a disaster is that basically we are not really covering core computer science concepts nor are we appreciating the real beauty of computer programming and algorithmic thinking. We are dipping our toes but we can't get our whole body in the ocean. In a way, that kind of makes me depressed.

A step by step book might seem fairly antiquated to students brought up using computers from the age of 2. People have a certain expectation these days for the way in which technology is presented and taught. It is the unfortunate reality and we have to make do with the social and political environments that exist in and around schools.

I've personally seen some really bad examples of computers in schools - stuff that seems totally irresponsible.

Kind regards,

On 4/05/2010, at 3:15 AM, Neil Van Dyke wrote:

>> Secondly: The biggest issue is that people are not doing that (teaching the concepts). At the school in New Zealand, Computer Science is basically MS Office and MS Access. It is a real disaster in my opinion.
> That sounds to me like the people who most need a complete package of what and how to teach/learn.
> *After* that foundation, I think they'll get more out of a menu of programming languages in existence.
> -- 
> http://www.neilvandyke.org/

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