A rant...

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The Lounge What is on Your Mind? A rant...
# 1  
Old 09-19-2018
A rant...

Hi guys...
(Apologies for any typos etc...)

This is basically a rant.

I have been doing kids level projects and writing code to suit since around 1982, for the uProfessor, for the Sinclair Spectrum and later for the QL, IBM-XT in MS-DOS and after that for a 386DX40 up to Windows 95, until I dedicated most my work for the AMIGA platform from 1996.
Since then I have built and coded for Linux and let us not forget AudioScope.sh for almost any *NIX style bash terminal.
It has been a hard slog to learn, even badly, 6502, Z80, 8088/8086/80186, x86, PIC and other assembler code as well as varying dialects of C, BASICs of many variants, ARexx, Python from version 1.4.0, Shell scripting, HTML 4+ and others I have since forgotten.

Well I came upon an advert for Lego Boost, (a supposed programming app'), and in this advert it quotes:

It's easy to keep things simple (...) but there is almost no limit to what you can program.
WHAT??? Almost No limit?
Well maybe ALMOST NO LIMIT within the confines of these Lego kits. But believe me, doing my stuff has taught me a great deal about kids and their so-called abilities along with the programming languages I have used.

It also, in a promotion video, quotes - paraphrasing:
Kids can learn how to code easily with this app'.

Well this app' is much like 'scratch':
Scratch - Imagine, Program, Share
Of which I tried for a nine year old to _learn_ how to code to create his own games. Not too successful I am afraid, the said nine year old boy's attention span was about 10 minutes at best and a book teaching scratch, (and python using pygame), that we bought him as a(n) XMAS present never ever got read.
He kept telling his parents he wanted to do programming.
After decades of doing projects mainly for kids from around eight years old I soon discovered that attention spans of even ten year olds was small and everything had to be designed to be built by a youngster, under supervision, within an hour at the absolute most.

Well there is programming and there is programming.
Learning a computer language is NOTHING like the same as drag and drop systems in a tight, closed, _eco_system_ where programming error reports don't exist.
Coding from the ground up may not be glamorous but you get to know how things work language wise and you soon find that the 'ALMOST NO LIMIT' sure has numerous limits.
Building hardware that has to be made from almost RAW materials is much more difficult than kits as those kids that have tried my stuff learn how to solder, mark out and drill boxes, how to lay out components, cut tracks etc on stripboard/Veroboard to get any home brew hardware to work.

Questions to my friends on here:

What is/are your opinion(s) on my rant?
Do you think that apps' like 'scratch' and 'Lego Boost' actually teach kids programming?
How did you become the professional(s) that you are?
# 2  
Old 09-19-2018
They have to start somewhere, and have to want to. Having the vague idea they want to program won't motivate them to crack books thicker than their wrist. Most people never learn this stuff, and they're only nine!

Whatever they begin with should be simple and interactive. Mindstorm(or whatever Lego calls it now) might do the trick and won't kill them. I learned QBASIC and even now still use it a few times a year to rapidly visualize something - drawing one graphical line in QBASIC is "MODE 12", "LINE (X,X)-(Y,Y),color". Name a "real" language which can do that without five times as much preamble!

Anyway, young also means sharp. They will quickly discover the limitations of whatever tinkertoy language you give them, and that may motivate them to learn something better. I hated that couldn't do STRING=print a,b,c in BASIC. But I found that feature in C as "sprintf", which ended up leading me to Linux, UNIX, Web Development, networking, shell, and my career up to now.

Last edited by Corona688; 09-19-2018 at 02:48 PM..
# 3  
Old 09-19-2018
A note on books as gifts, 75% of books you give will go unread, no matter what you give to who. Just a fact of life. They might find it useful someday or might not.
# 4  
Old 09-19-2018
Originally Posted by wisecracker
Questions to my friends on here:

What is/are your opinion(s) on my rant?
Do you think that apps' like 'scratch' and 'Lego Boost' actually teach kids programming?
How did you become the professional(s) that you are?
My experience is that children should be exposed to as much as possible, microscopes, telescopes, chemistry sets, music instruments, summer camp, sports, art, science, math, more books than they can read, computers, legos, more and more.

This is how I was raised and even though both of my parents were alcoholics and life growing up was "not fun much of the time at home"; however, despite my parents addiction to alcohol, they did a great thing to expose me to everything and gave me every opportunity to learn.

As a kid, I used to hide in the attic of our house and play with chemistry sets, microscopes, model cars, trains and planes, multimeters, read sci-fi books, play chess - anything to escape my parent's alcoholic wrath.

It is wrong for adults to restrict children from any "main stream" form of knowledge and learning and it is wrong for adults to impose their will (on what children should learn or what tools they should use to learn) too strongly on children. Give children science, math, art, literature and let them learn what they want to learn.

Maybe how I was raised (given every tool imaginable and not scolded for being interested in math, science, technology, motorcycles, musics... everything!!) is why I continue to learn to code in new languages today, learn new systems today, and why I am very comfortable even at this advancing age, to be forever young and to learn new things every day.

I learn a lot of tech from younger people and from older people (however, the number of younger people far outpaces the number of older people for me now, LOL)

Perhaps this is the reason I am constantly amazed at all the folks who are """experts""" and are great at some narrow aspect of technology yet grumble and complain about "new technology" and for the most part, refuse to learn new tools and frameworks.

In the past week, I have finished one book on current political events, one book on the science of sleep, and am now nearly finished with a physics book on black holes. The week before, two sci-fi books. I have written many lines of production code in HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery and PHP in the last week and have debugged an entire system port to a new datacenter.

It's really important, I think, not to worry about what others do; and just do your best, learn every day, and embrace change and knowledge with passion and zeal.

That's what I think.
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