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Comment Re:Why children should NOT be taught to code (Score 1) 97 97

While it seems intuitive that programming develops logical thinking, it may be the case that people who program already possessed that skill and programming merely reinforces it.

If it seems intuitive that programming develops logical thinking, you're holding it wrong.

The imperative-procedural paradigm that virtually all mainstream programming is based on hides logic behind a slavish step-by-step drudge. You can't see the program (woods) for the code (trees). This is why you have to have a particularly strong grasp of logical thought before you go into computing -- it's a huge strain keeping the bigger picture in mind while fighting over the minutiae.

Last year I switched a project I was working on from Python to Prolog. People still think I'm mad because it's so much slower in operation, but coding up a component takes hours instead of days because I only have to think about the logic. This is the prototype, and I'm perfectly happy to optimise late, because that way I don't paint myself into a corner.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 97 97

I was CS too, and I completely get what you're saying, but I think a certain amount of programming really helps you understand the whys of CS. But that point is tyat you need to be addressing programming problems, rather than simply going through the motions of implementing a standard "catch the falling object" game. Addressing a curriculum-related problem not only teaches programming, but also brings up motivation for optimisation, hence a jumping-off point for teaching CS concepts. Combinations and permutations are a good start, because you end up with a factorial on the numerator and denominator, so you can optimise the formula by removing redundancy in the factorial calculation, as well as the standard CS stuff about the factorials itself. You then get to compare the two approaches and demonstrate how what is optimal in one situation isn't optimal in another.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 97 97

I would not expect computers and/or computer science to improve the performance of students in SAT Mathematics, AP Calculus, and AP Statistics.

We use computers so we dont have to remember all that crap. The computer does the math.

I would expect it to improve reading, reading comprehension, written language skills, and logical thinking. That is what the student is learning!

Computing teaches any problem domain that you are asked to code solutions for.

The problem with initiatives like code.org is that they generally try to engage kids by making things move on the screen. Most of that means doing very basic arithmetic in an esoteric firmat surrounded by Byzantine library calls.

If you want kids to do better in statistics, you shouldn't start with the paradigm of interactive entertainment, but with the far less abstract view of a computer as something that computes stuff. Kids might not like their schoolwork, but it's certainly relevant to them. Part of the problem teaching complex maths is that the mechanics of carrying out the underlying computations diverts attention from the "big picture" view. Procedural computing was designed specifically to address the problem of "can't see the wood for the trees" by separating the general algorithm from the specifics of implementation.

Comment Re:LOL at 'native Australians' (Score 1) 103 103

Did you invent the handgun? Did you invent gunpowder? Did you invent fire? No, no and no, yet you benefit from the chain of invention that led from the last to the first, irrespective of your personal level of intelligence. Technology is not genetic. Aboriginal Australians were isolated from the development of technology elsewhere having migrated before even the invention of counting. Just as fertile ground produces no food until a seed is planted, so does an intelligent mind need external input.

Comment Re:Intercourse. (Score 1) 103 103

For the moment, I think we need to point to the simplest hypothesis, which is these genes were present in at least of the proto-Indian populations that went over the land bridge. That's not to exclude the possibility of new evidence pointing towards some sort of trans-Pacific input into the Americas, but the evidence, as small a body as it is, simply does not support that conclusion.

The evidence doesn't support any conclusion, so we should make any. Choosing a single hypothesis is tantamount to drawing a conclusion. There are precious few operational decisions that rely on a having a hypothesis, so I'm personally happy maintaining a nice wide "search space" of possibilities and admitting that I just don't know.

Comment Re:qmail and Microsoft (Score 1) 85 85

MS killed shared source with an overreaching license agreement -- it effectively said "if you look at this source, you may never write a single similar piece of software from niw until the end of time. Accepting a shared source license was a career-limiting thing to do, so no-one did it.

Comment Re:qmail and Microsoft (Score 1) 85 85

The problem is that the OP wants to have users contribute patches, not plugins. They want customers to write code for them and ascribe the copyright back to them. This is not only inequitous, but also potentially illegal, as it may constitute unpaid labour, something which is prohibited in most jurisdictions.

Comment Re:Paper (Score 1) 162 162

I'm not really understanding. What does this Facebook solotion do that couldn't be done on a piece of paper?

The advantage is that the solotion can be applied by one person.

Reread the GP's post and rethink your selective quoting. The software manages lessons, but you still have to write them in the first place. As with most teacher-enabling technologies (as opposed to teacher-replacing technologies), the tool has a large time-cost in initial setup, and the teacher won't get any payoff for several years. The best example of this pattern would be the question bank. The idea was that teachers would collect their problem sets year-on-year, so that they could alter their worksheets and create new ones at will. However, as the main question sheets don't need to change every year, the teachers wouldn't gain anything from the exercise until and unless there was a major change to the curriculum, but even in that case, the collected extra questions (taken from tests written fresh each year) would be just as out-of-date as any of the main classwork problems that were invalidated by the curriculum changes.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (10) Sorry, but that's too useful.

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