Introducing children and/or school to Squeak

Alan Kay Alan.Kay at
Tue May 8 13:59:20 PDT 2001

John --

I just read the article in question that you mentioned below. It is 
really quite bogus and completely mixes up stuff that is more or less 
true with lots of stuff that is simply alarmist and most quite wrong. 
It's like blaming the printing press because of comic books or that 
Hitler wrote "Mein Kampfe". I could not find a shred of understanding 
about what children really do need to experience at an early age 
(it's neither hands off intellectual stuff, nor is it mini-university 

In any case, it quite misses all of the important points about 
children and just about anything -- moreover, it could just as well 
be about books -- highly isolating (that's part of the point), 
"intellectual", etc. --  and musical instruments -- repitative stress 
injuries (you bet) -- rather than computing.

The biggest problem is that those holding these sentiments and those 
of the faction they oppose -- both are very large groups -- are both 
quite wrong about early childhood -- *and* the possible uses of 

I would not recommend this article to anyone (except as an egregious 
example of special pleading).




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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