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Re: Word processor - LyX

Ian Bicking wrote:
> > Yes, I realize that, for the youngest.  I've taught simple word
> > processing to 8-year old kids, and I think that IF they start at that
> > age, then maybe 10 years old is a good age to start with LyX kind of
> > formatting, maybe even earlier.  That kind of formatting is present
> > in many other word processors too, like abiword, but I think a
> > completely consequent processor like LyX would be more pedagogical.
> Given the choice a concrete interface is generally
> prefered -- only after working on something large for a while does
> structured word processing seem inviting.
> So the need for structured word processing is not very immediate
> or direct for the younger student -- or even for most pre-graduate-
> level college students.
But is that because the visual method of composition is preferred or
because there was heretofore no easy method of working structurally?  I
think that starting children thinking about the logical structure of
their compositions at an early age can only be a good thing.

> I wonder if it would be best to start with a good HTML editor (i.e.,
> one that doesn't try to look just like a word-processor).  It has a
> natural appeal to students, making web pages and all.  At the
> same time, it could help a student think about writing in a
> structured way.  Are there any good, Free HTML editors?
If you mean "WYSIWYG" HTML editors, no.  Of course given the nature of
HTML I'll argue that there is no such thing as a true WYSIWYG editor. 
There is asWedit (I may have their non-standard capitalization wrong),
but I'm not sure that would be appropriate for younger students.

> > Now, of course, it could be frustrating to use LyX, not being able to
> > format the text the way you expect to.. In time, you have to learn
> > when to use wich kind, but seing the result of a latex-formatted
> > text, looking just like a book or scientific article, is a motivator.
> LyX is neat.  Part of me wishes that LyX could be the word
> processor for everyone -- if not now, somewhere in its future
> development.
I agree, LyX is neat.  As to the frustration of not formatting text
easily, I suspect that's also an artifact of using visually-oriented
wordprocessors too much.  The whole point should be that the visual
presentation of textual information is an important but ancillary topic,
while logically and rationally structuring one's thoughts and writing
them down is the central point.  I think that a "wordprocessor" (like
LyX) that made that separation explicit could be very useful in teaching
children not to design pretty pages but to logically and forcefully
present their thoughts to others.  You can probably see that I also
lament the demise of rhetoric classes in most US schools :-).

Doug Loss                 A life spent making mistakes is not only
Data Network Coordinator  more honorable, but more useful than a
Bloomsburg University     life spent doing nothing.
dloss@bloomu.edu                G. B. Shaw