"No time in my schedule for Computer Science"

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sat Feb 20 03:27:28 EST 2010

On Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 5:21 PM, Emmanuel Schanzer
<schanzer at bootstrapworld.org> wrote:

> Speaking only as someone who has taught algebra to actual middle and high schoolers, I can honestly say that the Turtle Art project IS ruinous to children who are approaching algebraic functions and variables for the first time. I work with kids in the "behind" zip codes, and I spend an enormous amount of time and energy working to undo some of the bad *procedural* habits kids have picked up from earlier grades. Reinforcing those habits with programming that involves mutable variables and procedures makes my job much, much harder.

OK Emmanuel, thanks for the feedback.

I have not used the OLPC Turtle Art project at work, have not had the
privilege of using an XO in any classroom context, even though I have
two of them.

Ed Cherlin on edu-sig is a contributor to that project.

Gregor Lindl in Vienna maintains the turtle module for the Python
standard library.

I'm grateful to have publicly accessible archives where these
viewpoints are considered by experts.

Many educators have not stopped to consider that Turtle Art might be
harmful to those attempting to learn mathematics.

In the curriculum I favor, a turtle is sometimes used to draw plane
nets for geometric shapes we fold up.

Controlling the turtle requires knowing about the angles, edge lengths
and so forth.

Using a turtle is just one skill among many.

Controlling robots and/or devices is simply part of what we do.

For example we have this T-module.

60 left handed and 60 right handed T-modules assemble into a rhombic
triacontahedron (where the T comes from, not Turtle).

> (FWIW: If I could go back in time and teach all of these kids arithmetic without PEMDAS and infix notation, I would weep with joy)
> Emmanuel

For those who don't know what PEMDAS means, here's a link:


Thanks again for sharing your viewpoint on a publicly archived list.

Many subcultures have input into K12 mathematics.  Airplane pilots for example.

Intelligent policy / funding doesn't happen in a vacuum and journals
are somewhat slow to turn things around.

Time is of the essence these days.  Students shouldn't have to wait
for their new kind of math class.

We should already be airing some recruiting commercials, don't you
think?  For their sake.

We move forward more quickly when we have shared access to the
relevant discussions.


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