[plt-scheme] Question on Teaching Scheme with DrScheme

From: Jerzy Karczmarczuk (karczma at info.unicaen.fr)
Date: Tue Nov 5 10:25:52 EST 2002

Jens Axel Søgaard wrote:

>> On Thursday 31 October 2002 16:30, Lear, Russell wrote:
>>> My 12 year old daughter was looking over my shoulder while I was 
>>> working on something in DrScheme. ...
>>> Anyway, she's pretty excited over this and wants to learn more.  Are 
>>> there any resources people know of on teaching kids simple programming? 

> Take a look at the turtles teachpack. It is very easy to make nice 
> drawings quickly with it.
> I used a set of homegrown macros and defines like
>    (define frem forward)   ; frem is the danish word for forward
> to make an easy turtle language in Danish.  I used it one day a bunch of
> potential students ... I think (knock on wood) that the idea 
> was a success.

Somebody else also mentioned Papert and the Logo business.

Well, if it works (knock on my head), << tant mieux >>. But I know some
failures as well. And in my very humble opinion the Logo language itself
is a pedagogic calamity, inhomogeneous and ugly. The purified Scheme
version, frankly, seems nicer... - but still, a mixture of imperative
and functional constructs may not be as digestible as we would wish.
If what you really would use are mainly imperative constructs, FORWARD,
TURN, etc., why use Scheme at all?

Please don't think that I don't like Scheme. I use it for years to teach
computer graphics, but I exploit functional algorithms, and I deal with
20-years old babies...

In Scheme you can do everything. Nevertheless I still believe that one
should not *force* things. The "imperative constructionism" seems cleaner
in Python.

And in Smalltalk (for example: Squeak).

In both, and in Smalltalk in particular it is easier to code complex
interactions, like in Alice.

I change my mind when somebody takes the OpenGL layer in DrScheme, and
implements Alice over it. Seriously. This will be a breakthrough in
approaching Scheme to children, and I would like to participate in
such a project.

The best.

Jerzy Karczmarczuk

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