On Mar 11, 2014, at 4:35 PM, kirby urner <kirby.urner@GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> My own point in using the phrase / meme was in response to Joe's point that much-younger-than-high-school-aged kids may learn to program.
We need to define better what we mean by ?learn?. I think Joe meant ?can be exposed to? and I am fine with that. But when we start saying ?learn? I am thinking of a transformational event in one?s life. It?s a big deal! It doesn?t mean you have learned everything there is to know about the subject at hand. In fact, at that transformational movement, you have learned very little of what there is to know about the subject. It means that you reach a point where you say to yourself ?I see what this is about!?. Whether the rest of the story is appealing to you or not is another issue altogether.
But there are prerequisite conditions that must be met before one can actually experience that transformational moment and these conditions and how soon they can be met vary depending on the subject. For example, a 4th grader can obviously learn music, by my definition, but they can?t learn calculus. I have seen very little learning of programming in elementary school, but some decent pre-exposures. I think there are several reasons (conditions not met) that inhibit learning programming in elementary school. Understanding algorithmic problem solving is one. Understanding the syntax and grammar of programming languages is another, and not having an understood application to which to apply programming to is yet another. And then there is the element of maturity. While I believe that some of these things do begin to develop in 5th or 6th grade, they just aren?t there yet, together. This is why they use legos and non grammatical programming tools. And there is plenty of empirica! l evidence out there to study. My son is a big Minecraft fan and you can tell which kids are modding (actually programming) and which are just playing and how old the two groups are. And you don?t see any real programming activity in Legos or First Robotics till middle school.
I pride myself on seeing what things are about, as I hope many of you strive to do. And it it isn?t something I was good at in 3rd grade, or middle school, or even high school. It is something you acquire with experience. When I had that transformational moment in algebra class, it wasn?t because I knew what I was looking for, it was because of the curriculum, the teacher, and me keeping up. The same goes for physics, and chemistry. But after each success, you start realizing more what to look for and you become more able to get to it quicker and teach yourself. This skill seems to start in high school but really kicks in during college. But you always get better, throughout life, as you mature and as you keep learning.
I have been studying pre-exposure for some time. I cannot find any evidence that learning (my definition) is occurring. That doesn?t mean I am against it, just that I think it should not be treated as part of the academic progression. Even though I think Logo and the like were complete flops for their intended purpose, to teach programming to young kids, I think the activity is worthwhile, for other reasons. I still hold to a 75/25 mix. 75% of the lesson plan should be development while 25% should be engagement. In high school that changes somewhat.