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Re: [seul-edu] Language to teach 10 year olds
It seems that the accepted premise here is that 10 year olds are ready
to learn abstract ideas about logic, or that teaching concepts involving
a necessary jump from the tangible to the abstract would be beneficial
I don't disagree with this idea, but I do think that jumping straight
into a programming language would not be the route to take. I would
argue that the more a child learning concepts of abstract logic has to
concentrate on things like syntax and structure, the less they will be
able to understand of what they are doing. It seems to me that if one
is going to be teaching the basis of computer programming, i.e. logic,
then letting them concentrate 100% of their time and effort on
understanding logic would be the best introduction of all.
Creating a program that visually represents what a computer program
does, and which gradually moves them from the tangible world around them
to the abstract world of computer languages seems to be the best method
I can think of to teach programming.
Here's an example of what I mean:
In the first stages, the student could be doing something like an
assembly line; they have to get all the machines on the line running
correctly, in the correct positions on the assembly line, and then run
it. During these early stages, simple if/then logic trees could be
introduced and reinforced. Later, add on for loops, switches, etc.
Each successive 'level' of the program could introduce another logic
concept, and then reinforce them through tangible situations that
students can visualize.
Once they mastered the ideas in a tangible way, then the program could
introduce the same ideas in the abstract. Introducing the if/then
statement as an abstract idea representing something they are already
familiar with. Instead of using something tangible, like a faucet or a
light switch, they would actually be using the statement to do
This would be a perfect preface to a programming language. Instead of
having to understand the concepts behind programming as well as trying
to master the syntax, they can concentrate on learning the syntax.
The 'program' doesn't need to be a computer program at all. It could be
a series of games, or pencil and paper based logic training (although I
think all three would serve this purpose best)... as long as it's
introducing the concepts and reinforcing them separate of any syntax or
program structure that they may need to learn later on.
Trying to combine the task of learning the concepts as well as the
syntax may have the effect of making programming uninteresting because
they cannot handle both tasks; it may turn them off to programming
because it seems too hard, too confusing, or simply, is not made
meaningful to them.