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Re: [olpc-software] age target?



Hi --

At 10:16 PM 3/21/2006, Joshua N Pritikin wrote:
On Tue, Mar 21, 2006 at 08:05:27AM -0800, Alan Kay wrote:
> To bring you up to date on what we've been doing with children the last 10
> years or so, here are two white papers about Squeak Etoys that you can go
> to directly: http://www.squeakland.org/pdf/etoys_n_learning.pdf ,
> http://www.squeakland.org/pdf/etoys_n_authoring.pdf

I read them. I played with squeak. I like the fact that there is a
real computer language underneath (smalltalk). I like how it works
seemlessly in my web browser.

> Interestingly (in general and wrt the HDLT project), a very large number of
> the actual uses in the US and the world do not follow the "learn science
> and math" stuff, but are used as ways to solve the often more limited aims
> of the particular teachers (for "computer literacy", "creativity", etc.).
> We believe this happens primarily because most teachers of this age range
> have very limited science and math backgrounds. I think this will be a huge
> problem with the HDLT as well. It will be immediately used for "human
> built-ins" (such as communication, stories, games, etc,) but the use for
> learning "non-natural knowledge" (like science, mathematics, etc.) will
> languish. We've seen this pattern very strongly in the use of the web in
> US, Europe and Japan, and there is no reason to suppose that things will
> somehow automatically be better in the 3rd world.

"better in the 3rd world"?  Ha! Here's an example. Do you know how they
are teaching multiplication in Maharashtra?  Children are expected to
memorize multiplication tables _in_sequence_ and recite them like a
song.  So:

1x1=1, 1x2=2, 1x3=3, 1x4=4, etc
2x1=2, 2x2=4, 2x3=6, 2x4=8, etc

What will probably happen with OLPC is that these teachers will devise
software to teach multiplcation _in_the_same_way_.  Farfetched?  You are
invited to watch a VCD I found which presents multiplication tables to
music.

We are agreeing here. As I said, there is no reason that things will be better in the 3rd world.


> So I think that
> "mentoring" (in all the forms that we can devise) is the most important "UI
> problem" to be solved on the HDLT.

Perhaps.

I don't intend to come across as discouraging.  However, it will be
easier to report that the OLPC project is a success if we limit
ourselves to modest expectations.

The goal here is not to "report success" but to get many things moving in better directions. The HDLT project is a reach towards many possibilities.

  It may take a full generation (or
longer) before the sophistication of most teachers rises much towards
their potential.

This is why mentoring is the most critical part of this project. Teachers and parents are the main mentors of children, and they are the ones that need to be helped in every way we can. We call this "helping the helpers" or "mentoring the mentors". One way to do this is to supply not just authoring tools, but lots of examples of well tested curricula that go beyond current classroom practice.

This is why it is likely to take a long time (one of the best ways to improve mentoring is to help children grow into adults who can mentor better). In Europe, it took about 150 years after the spread of the printing press (and generations of children gradually learning what the new medium could really do) to produce the revolutions in thought seen in the 17th century.

I see Squeak as a utopian environment.  Personally I love things
like Squeak, but it is a missed opportunity not to cater to
all conceivable tastes.

Well, computers themselves do cater to all conceivable tastes, and the lowest level of use of the HDLT is just as a computer.

 I read Seymour Papert's books and that's where
I disagree with his emphasis.  He seems to argue that utopia software is
more important than the software license.

??? I'm missing something here ...

  I disagree.  Both are
important but the license is the trump card. In other words:

  http://www.gnu.org/education/education.html

I'm missing the significance of this. All of the SW going out on the HDLT will be free and open.

Cheers,

Alan


But anyway I digress. I'm probably preaching to the choir, as they say.

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