Introducing children and/or school to Squeak

Alan Kay Alan.Kay at
Tue May 8 13:31:54 PDT 2001

John --

There is no reason (cognitive or otherwise) why a child of 9 or 10 
shouldn't use Squeak on a computer.

There are many reasons why children of  various ages shouldn't do "X" 
on a computer, but both the ages of the kids and the X's have to be 
taken into account.
      There is quite a lot of parallelism between the desirable 
percentages of time spent learning from books at various ages with 
similar activities on computer. Basically, the younger the child, the 
more they should be messing about with the physical world. (Of 
course, most parents don't do a very good job of dealing with their 
children's physical world experiences either. For example, the kinds 
of toys that children play with in the physical world are quite 
important, but very little effort on the part of most parents goes 
into learning about desirable toys.)
      But, even with young children, having them get familar with 
books and reading (especially via "lapware") is good for all. The 
same applies for thoughtful uses of computing.

      Finally, though having anyone look at CRTs up close for any 
period of time is not terribly good for them (research supporting 
this was done by us at Xerox PARC in the mid70s), there is absolutely 
no harm incurred by having children look at the typical flat-screen 
XVGA screens found on current day laptops.



At 12:06 PM -0700 5/8/01, John Steinmetz wrote:
>You'll hear from others about curricula, but I want to suggest that
>children under age 11 or so should stay away from computers. There are
>various reasons, some physical/neurological, some pedagogical, but for me
>the main reason is that young children have very, very important things to
>do which cannot be done on a screen. In addition, looking at screens may be
>harmful for children's physical and neurological development.
>For an excellent review of research on children and computers--and it is
>shocking how little research has been done to support the wholesale
>adoption of computers by schools--see "Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at
>Computers in Childhood," available as a free download or a $14 volume ($12
>for multiple copies) from the Alliance for Childhood,
>,  phone 301-513-1777 or email to
>info at
>I love Squeak's possibilities for older students and adults. While helping
>to develop those possibilites, I mostly keep my own kids, age 5 and 12,
>away from the computer.
>	John
>>I have two sons, ages 7 and 10, who attend a local charter school.  The
>>school has a very nice computer lab with both Macintosh and Windows-based
>>PCs.  The school currently covers K-5 but in the fall will be expanding to
>>include grades 6-8.  The school does use computers in conjunction with the
>>curriculum, but the students are pretty much limited to the use of
>>HyperStudio to do their work.
>>I am very interested in getting Squeak introduced to our school.  I think
>>it would offer the students the ability to do far more than
>>HyperStudio.  However, I'm not sure how to get the school to look into
>>Squeak.  Are there any Squeak-based curriculums available which I could
>>demo to the teachers to show how Squeak might be used in a school
>>environment?  I know I could show them Squeakland, but I think they would
>>want to have some more ideas on how to actually teach and use Squeak.  Even
>>if the school doesn't want to use Squeak, I work with a couple of people
>>with school age kids who are interested in introducing Squeak to our
>>children.  I would be very interested in ideas for projects for kids in the
>>7-12 age group and tips on how to introduce Squeak to kids.

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