Classes in eToys
alan.kay at squeakland.org
Fri Dec 24 00:34:47 UTC 2004
Well, you have to decide whether you want a productivity tool or a learning
environment. In the latter, one learns how to do everything and gets deeply
competent ("real guitar"). In the former many things are done for you,
sometimes (often) to the level of "air guitar"). As I said, most people
(and children) want results more than understanding, so they are happy to
pretend (and there are also occasions when a productivity tool is more
reasonable, especially for adults).
Staying with music as a subject here, there are now quite a few pieces of
SW that help (and more than help) people who don't understand music to put
together stuff that sounds somewhat like music without ever learning about
composition, and to play stuff that sounds a little like music without ever
learning how to play. In our world of desire for instant gratification,
this is almost irresistible because it provides the illusion of skill and
understanding. Children want to be gratified, and they have almost no idea
about what is appropriate or not. It is up to adults to help them value
important things and to value the amount of effort and focus required (of
course, most adults no longer have much sense about appropriate
So you should ask yourself: at what level do I want my child to desire,
make and understand? How much of the important stuff do I want done for
him, and how much should he have to diligently learn for himself? A nice
question in education is: when should it be easy and when should it be
hard? We don't want gratuitous difficulties, but we have to realize that
real difficulties won through are the most important things in real
education, because the winning through qualitatively changes the learner
into a different and better thinker and doer. ("Sire, there is no royal
road to Geometry")
The most interesting thing for me about the last few years experimenting
with etoys is finding out better perspectives from which to help children
view and learn serious knowledge without compromising the quality of the ideas.
At 04:16 PM 12/23/2004, Blake wrote:
>On Thu, 23 Dec 2004 12:48:01 -0800, Alan Kay <alan.kay at squeakland.org>
>>Please give an example of "To be able to make programs like the ones they
>>see and use regularly.".
>The two easiest ones to identify are stories and games. The former I
>expect no trouble with. The latter, I do, because the most prevalent
>models have tremendous production values.
>About 10 years ago Broderbund had the "Living Books" series (the Dr. Seuss
>ones were excellently done) but you could go to a web page and see
>And envision it not just as a fictional device, but a way to create
>reports on historical events, science experiments, etc.
>Createatale.com is Flash. As someone else here said, they were looking to
>make Squeak competitive with Flash. For this purpose, I can't imagine
>Flash has much on Squeak other than ubiquity.
>About 25 years ago, when I learned to program, this was easy. Vector
>graphics, arcade games, even "Collossal Cave" was simple by today's
>standards. I can start the kids on lunar lander, space invaders, etc. But
>they're going to want to do far more ambitious things. Just as an example,
>when I was playing with lunar lander, the 9yo said, "We should add
>asteroids to dodge and maybe enemy alien ships and..."
>As I listened, I heard him invent (discover) the next twelve iterations of
>"lunar lander", i.e., I remember the version of lander that had asteroids
>to dodge, and alien ships and power-ups. This doesn't surprise me. As a
>kid in 1979, I invented the FPS, the CRPG, the real-time wargame, the
>action-adventure, etc. However, it does inform me. I know what I'm in for.
>There is a huge opportunity to teach higher math and physics. Not just
>f=ma but f=G(m1*m2/r2), see if we can measure G and look at the problems
>in doing so, etc.
>Likewise, he's very interested in military history, and it would be good
>to present a simulation of why the phalanx ruled for so long, and how it
>was brought down. (He took apart the last two "Lord of the Rings" movies
>for their battle scenes.)
>Ultimately, though, he'll take the most pride in being able to make a game
>and publish it. Online, multiplayer, and even massively multiplayer.
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