Long rant about Python in Education

Discussion in 'Python' started by à¢éҹ͹, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. This is in response to one of the pyWiki pages:
    PythonAsAFirstLanguage.

    If there's a better place I could have posted this, please tell me
    about it. I will be posting this elsewhere over the next few ideas,
    because I feel it's my duty to spread this idea.

    It's not grandiose, just Quixotic.

    Someone wrote,

    "We could really use some success stories of Python in education."

    Right... Python was developed to be easily learnt by children. So
    that's not a declarative sentence. It's an implied question.

    Here's my answer. It took a while to write, but it's quite simple.

    Problem: Python won't be easily learnt by my stepchild, I know for a
    fact.

    She loves her laptop, but she calls me a nerd whenever Linux gets
    brought up at the dinner table.

    I'm not bitter about this.

    But I want you guys, especially the ones who are planning on having
    kids, as well as the ones who already have them, to understand what
    steps you can take to teach your kids Python.

    I've basically outlined an 'algorithm' for it here. If you don't have
    time to read a long, eccentric, rambling post, just 'read the lead'

    Solution to problem:

    1) Only let them see you using the terminal. Don't even use Windows in
    the house.
    2) Their first laptop should be installed with a nice, well-supported
    Linux distro.
    3) Brush up on your Linux skills yourself.

    The bottom line: teach them to do beautiful things with the terminal.

    I believe Linux should be mastered by everyone who uses it.

    And I believe Linux (not Python) is the way to teach children to
    program. Especially intuitive ones. (In the Myers-Briggs scale.)

    Why is this important?

    Because the part of the world that most hates America right now is
    full of intuitives. And if we want not to be blown off the face of the
    earth in a few decades, we have to empower them in a very new way: we
    have to teach them to enjoy programming, enjoy computers, and develop
    their minds in a way that doesn't involve becoming 'Imams' who are
    essentially the learned mafia bosses of terrorism.

    I have mastered Classical Arabic. I once met a Pakistani and told him
    I had done so. We were in the middle of a theological debate. In the
    middle of his Islamic theology was, laughably enough, some Christian
    theology that I have no idea how it got there. Orthodox Islam has no
    concept of original sin, but he believed in it. That was a real
    surprise for me.

    Anyway, despite the fact that he'd only read translations of the
    Qur'an, whereas I'd read the original, he was not impressed.

    He said that Pakistan had many 'schools' for studying Arabic, and that
    there was an incredible number of 'students' there.

    These people aren't dumb, guys. They're just learning the wrong stuff.

    We can't change the schools, but we don't need to.

    Don't forget that Arabs and Central Asians both had education systems
    based on Islam before western education came with the French and
    British. The attempt to re-establish the primacy of that system of
    education is what Islamic terrorism is all about.

    It was based on memorizing/hearing the Qur'an, yes, then learning the
    meanings of the words by reading it.

    Actually, for an intuitive person, this is an excellent way to learn
    any language (find a text, find a recording, memorize the recording,
    intuit the meanings) and I have used it to learn Spanish, Chinese, and
    Arabic.

    How does this apply to Linux/Python?

    Having access to the /usr/bin directory means having access to a whole
    load of algorithms without even having to write them yourself!

    Hasn't anyone but me thought of how great that would be for kids?

    So, when you guys ban windows in the home and start breastfeeding your
    kids terminals (I was using a DOS terminal correctly at age 9,
    shouldn't be hard to teach them whippersnappers to use a -nix shell),
    then you can bring in Python. But first, start writing Python to put
    in their /usr/bin directories, so that they get comfortable with the
    idea that Python can be both scripted and compiled, and that programs
    are simply algorithms that get called using arguments.

    Then teach them to write Python stuff they can put into /usr/bin

    Important: ban windows entirely in the home. I cannot stress this
    enough.

    My stepdaughter is as good with computers as I was at her age, and
    I've seen her play around with the settings on her laptop when she's
    bored. Obviously, she wants to explore the machine sometimes, but
    windows has trained her mind not to look for geeky solutions.

    Windows has trained her to think of a computer as a magic machine, and
    not as an algorithm machine.

    Will the real Bill Gates please stand up.

    When I was her 10, my stepfather banned me from playing DOOM unless I
    could get it to work using the DOS command line.

    I did not manage to replace the .dll file he had deleted, but I did
    learn lots.

    Will the real Bill Gates please stand up, please stand up, please
    stand up...

    So, in conclusion:

    DO people of the free-thinking world want a Mozart Python genius to
    show off to the schools in Europe, Japan, Saudi (most importantly,
    because it's a very rich country), the US, and all the other richer
    countries... Do you?

    I do. I'll see that kid as some sort of divine messiah, the way this
    world is heading now.

    The minute we can get 10-year-old Python geniuses in countries like
    Pakistan, Algeria, and occupied Palestine, they will be superstars,
    inspire the upper classes in their respective countries to teach their
    kids programming, and our earth will no longer have anything to fear
    from Islamic terrorism (using Linux, which is the John the Baptist of
    this whole equation), because sooner or later, the terrorists who are
    just bored teenagers will start writing good programs.

    Also, my travels around the world have convinced me that Arabs will
    someday be be the best programmers on the earth.

    My stepdaughter has an Arab background, and her case convinces me
    further.

    She could be a great computer programmer, if windows hadn't spoiled
    her!

    Windows has spoiled them all, though, sadly...

    They (Arabs) have the typology for it -- far more intuitives than we
    white people do. But the way "globalization" has worked, turning the
    whole world into an empire run by rich countries, of course there's a
    revolt stirring in the poorer ones. It was bound to happen someday.

    The fat cats who run these globalizing corporations mostly read the
    Bible everyday and think the apocalypse is coming soon. It's their
    prophecy guys, their book. Not ours.

    The Linux shell is our Qur'an. Python is our New Testament. Will
    somebody please write the Torah already?

    Our new style of imperialism has also taught the Arabs and Central
    Asians that, in order to succeed in life, you have to be
    'sensate' (Jung/Myers-Briggs again here. Please read up if you don't
    know what I'm talking about. The sensation function is what lets us do
    math, learn logic, sketch, play music, etc.)

    Want to cause an explosion of world peace? Want Python to change the
    world?

    I know this sounds grandiose guys, but I've just given you guys the
    answer.

    I've traveled the world including the parts of the Middle East where
    Bin Laden's doing most of his dirty work.

    I've done quite a bit of everything, and this is the answer: teach
    Python. But don't teach it first. Ban them from windows first.

    Important: When they want something done, make them figure out how to
    do it in the terminal.

    They will try, if they are good, because I tried. And unfortunately,
    since it was DOS, I did not have a whole slew of algorithms in the /
    usr/bin directory waiting to be learnt and studied. Also, I did not
    have a command history at my disposal. That's unfortunate, but it
    doesn't stop me from trying to master Linux now.

    A child who's mastered Linux at age 9 or 10 will be the first kid to
    get on international TV for learning good Python. . . He will be our
    era's Mozart...

    But you can't teach them Python until they're familiar with the
    workings of a computer. Don't even try.

    It's like trying to teach algrebra without geometry first -- the one
    was invented first, so it needs to be learned first. The fact that we
    now teach algebra first in some schools just makes people hate math.
    Ditto with teaching kids C/C++ who've never even touched linux.

    It's a scary education system... And my 2 cents is that the
    proliferation of western education creates hooligans, mafiosos, Imams
    who support terrorism, and other classes of thugs in societies where
    people are intuitive, like Pakistan or Egypt...

    Let's face it, guys. Our world only works in the favor of the few, the
    proud, the sensate.

    Thankfully, computers taught me everything I've ever learned.

    That's why I regard them in high esteem. My laptop is more than an
    object -- it is almost divine.

    What powers it? Electricity, which is almost divine.

    And what is greater than electricity?

    Ahh, the electromagnetic spectrum... the mystery of nature...

    Signing off for now to fight more terrorists,
    But not before a Coffee Break,

    Alec
    à¢éҹ͹, Aug 12, 2010
    #1
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  2. On Thu, 12 Aug 2010 05:05:55 -0700 (PDT)
    เข้านอน <> wrote:
    > have to teach them to enjoy programming, enjoy computers, and develop
    > their minds in a way that doesn't involve becoming 'Imams' who are
    > essentially the learned mafia bosses of terrorism.


    This is the point that I stopped reading your "message" and added you
    to my blacklist. Goodbye.

    --
    D'Arcy J.M. Cain <> | Democracy is three wolves
    http://www.druid.net/darcy/ | and a sheep voting on
    +1 416 425 1212 (DoD#0082) (eNTP) | what's for dinner.
    D'Arcy J.M. Cain, Aug 12, 2010
    #2
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  3. à¢éҹ͹

    John Bokma Guest

    "D'Arcy J.M. Cain" <> writes:

    > On Thu, 12 Aug 2010 05:05:55 -0700 (PDT)
    > เข้านอน <> wrote:
    >> have to teach them to enjoy programming, enjoy computers, and develop
    >> their minds in a way that doesn't involve becoming 'Imams' who are
    >> essentially the learned mafia bosses of terrorism.

    >
    > This is the point that I stopped reading your "message" and added you
    > to my blacklist. Goodbye.


    For what it's worth, same here.

    Also, I don't think it's a good idea to force a learning environment or
    an OS on a child. IMO it works best if you let the child discover and be
    a guide, not "thou should not use Windows".

    Not so remarkable that the rant moves from an extremistic teaching
    environment to an extremistic world view. From hating everything that's
    not Linux and idolizing the CLI to hating everything that is different
    in general.

    --
    John Bokma j3b

    Hacking & Hiking in Mexico - http://johnbokma.com/
    http://castleamber.com/ - Perl & Python Development
    John Bokma, Aug 12, 2010
    #3
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