Computing Literacy (Was: Re: How to bring EToys across - any info/outlines/guidelines?)

Bruce Cohen brucecohen at
Mon Apr 22 18:28:32 UTC 2002

Good point.  The problem is that while the end goal of Boxer and Logo 
(and Squeak) is not about computing, they are about  providing 
computing tools for other purposes.  So the initial requirement for 
their use is that the user understand and be able to use some model 
of computing.  And almost any model of computing can be used in a 
large set of application areas, certainly much broader than the areas 
that Logo was originally intended for.   That, I think, is what 
diSessa is talking about when he uses the term "computing literacy": 
a set of intellectual tools that can be applied to a large set of 

So while it's not about computing, it is about computing literacy, 
that is, giving people tools to do things that were difficult or 
impossible to do without the tools.  The problem is how to make those 
tools available in the face of opposition from people who see the 
question as one of educational funding, or vocational computer 
language use.


Frank Caggiano wrote:
>I won't speak for boxer but Logo was never intended to teach kids about
>It was intended to give kids a microworld to play with math in and later
>it became a place where you could think about thinking, and learning.
>(see 'Mindstorms' and 'The Children's Machine' by S. Papert)
>One reason, IMHO, Logo failed to capture the minds of mainstream
>educator is because it did become about teaching kids computing. No one
>could see the point of teaching 3rd graders how to program and if you
>were going to teach them how to program shouldn't you teach a
>'commercial' language like ... (fill in your favorite here: c, java,
>If squeak becomes 'about computing' (at least as far as the kids go) it
>to will suffer the same fate as Logo before it, even before it gets out
>the door.

"The joke is over when the head falls off." - Scotts' proverb
Bruce Cohen
brucecohen at

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