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Education Google Microsoft Programming Apple Microsoft, Google, Apple Identifying What 1st Graders Should Know 145

theodp writes: On Sunday, The Simpsons declared computer coding class the nation's latest educational fad (script). Proving Principal Skinner's point, on Thursday announced a New Framework to Define K-12 Computer Science Education, the collaboration of participants from a number of states (MD, CA, IN, IA, AR, UT, ID, NE, GA, WA), large school districts (NYC, Chicago, San Francisco), technology companies (Microsoft, Google, Apple), organizations (, ACM, CSTA, ISTE, MassCAN, CSNYC), and individuals (higher ed faculty, researchers, K-12 teachers, and administrators). "A steering committee initially comprised of the Computer Science Teachers Association, the Association for Computing Machinery, and [tech bankrolled and led] will oversee this project," explained a CSTA blog post. "Funding for the project will be provided by and the ACM. The framework will identify key K-12 computer science concepts and practices we expect students exiting grades 2, 5, 8, and 12 to know."

In a FAQ, envisions a Programming and Algorithms standard for 1st Graders that calls for the 5-year-olds to "Work collaboratively in clear roles (e.g., pair programming) to construct a problem solution of a sequence of block-based programming commands." A day before the announcement, Politico reported that K-12 CS education is expected to get a State of the Union mention this year, and that the White House and U.S. Dept. of Education have been trolling for CS success stories in conjunction with the announcement of a broad set of new commitments to CS Education in early 2016.
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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This isn't "computer science." This is assembly-line work.

    • by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:16PM (#51262311)

      This isn't "computer science."

      The problem is that the most appropriate term, "computer literacy", has been hijacked to mean MS Office basic skills.

      • It's not even computer literacy. Especially since pair programming won't feed their inner geek, is impossible to fairly grade (who did more work, etc) and will lead to kids who can't grasp the concept pairing with the little egomaniacal sh*ts and hating it after hearing "like this, dummy" too many times.
        • Jesus, man.... School isn't all about grades!
          • (But I was never a fan of a lot of school "groupwork", it has to be said.)
            • Let me re-express myself - if you can't collect performance metrics that you can have confidence in, how do you tell if you're doing any good, just wasting time and resources, or actively doing harm? How do you determine who needs more attention to a particular subject, and give it to them? Grading the students is also a good way of grading the teacher. It's a good way of finding out which teachers can't teach.
              • Standardised testing invokes the observer's paradox. As soon as you introduce a standard test, you bias the system by forcing the teacher to prepare the students for the test, altering the teacher's behaviour. Not only this, but not all students enter the class on an equal footing. Unless you can accurately capture the students' prior knowledge, you can't say whether the high/low grades are the result of prior knowledge or teaching. As soon as you introduce performance-related pay into a school system, you
                • Who said anything about standardized tests. Teachers are supposed to be professionals, they should be able to grade where each student is at without a standardized text, just based on their interactions and whatever tests the teacher devises. This will help identify the teachers who came before them and didn't do a good job.
        • It's not even computer literacy. Especially since pair programming won't feed their inner geek, is impossible to fairly grade (who did more work, etc) and will lead to kids who can't grasp the concept pairing with the little egomaniacal sh*ts and hating it after hearing "like this, dummy" too many times.

          It may not be computer literacy, and the metrics it generates may well be useless; but, (and I say this with only the smallest trace of exaggeration), it seems like a pretty good introduction to and indoctrination into the ways of the corporate workplace...

    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:51PM (#51262613)
      When I was in Junior High we had two classes that were paired for the year, the first was "Computers", and the second was, "Technology". As this was before most households had computers in the home, in Computers we learned how to use a GUI operating system (Macintosh LC platform if memory serves), what a word processor did, what a spreadsheet did, how rudimentary object drawing software (ie, not the kind with pixel-by-pixel manipulation) worked, how to make presentation slides, etc. This was designed to get us ready to do term papers, to do a very simple amount of math for either science class data processing or to prepare us for higher-level math, and how to create presentations so if we did class presentations we could use technology to do so.

      In Technology, we used computers for other goals. We had a stress-analyser that would crush things and give us plots of the way the item being crushed performed. We had software that we could use to mimic drag coefficient testing over a 2d representation of a car body. We had access to a wide-carriage plotter. We had the kids programming language "LOGO" to use to do vector manipulation of a cursor called the Turtle. We had plenty of non-computer-based things like a pneumatic kit to build simple pneumatic circuits and pneumatic machines, we had model rockets, we had to build a bridge to handle so much weight, we had to build something to make an egg survive drops from height using only cardboard and paper and glue.

      The term "Computer Science" wasn't part of the curriculum until high school, where we knuckled down and started playing with C.

      The biggest problem with trying to do this kind of thing for all kids and for multiple years at younger and younger ages boils down to two things- cost, and the allocation of classroom time. If there are six available hour-long periods in the day for possible instruction, and two classes (ie Computers versus Technology) at the same time, with 30 kids each, then that's 30*2*6, or 360 seats available at a maximum, or 180 per teacher. In reality teachers usually have down around 120 to 140 students spread across five class periods, as they need prep and lunch and time to deal with other things, which brings it down to 240-280 per year. Then you have all of the money to spend to equip and to maintain the learning labs and the staffing costs for that maintenance.

      Most of the schools that I attended had far, FAR more than 360 students. The JHS and HS campuses had 500 students per grade level, and the elementaries had probably 120-150 kids per grade. These kinds of opportunities were not offered until Junior High simply because it was not possible to put every child through these kinds of classes, so they became electives that the student could choose to sign up for once the educational model meant that students changed teachers every hour already; in the elementary model where students generally remain with the same teacher for the whole day other than one-hour-a-day changesups to once-a-week classes for music, or for art, or for computer lab, or library, or for a lab-type of science it's really not practical to give the kids enough exposure to actually develop a curriculum around the material. Kids would have to have time every day or nearly every day for it to really work, and since the educational model at all levels is to provide as much education for as little cost as possible, this simply isn't going to happen in public schools.

      Exposure to tech is generally a good thing, but unfortunately it costs money, a lot of money, and not everyone wants to have the same amount of exposure or can even benefit with the same amount of exposure. That's why concentrating on fundamentals as young children and reserving that specialized training for a little later makes more sense. I would rather see things like logic being taught, which can be irrespective of a computer, when kids are younger, so that when they do get use of the software on a computer they already have mastery of the basics, along the lines of how we don't let kids use calculators for basic arithmetic until they're studying a higher discipline of math like Trig or Calculus, where the calculator is only assisting in making the rote basic math happen faster.
    • Huh? Concepts like looping, conditionals, variables and variable arithmetic are definitely computer science.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. Most of the people that jump on this will find that it is not a good career-choice at all, unless you do it at the high end (caveat: I do). A the high end, you are the brain-surgeon. At the low end, you are the person that delivers the x-rays for minimal wage and that has a constant risk of having your job taken by technology. Now, do we think that everybody has what it takes to become a good brain-surgeon? Of course not. Why then this fantasy that this is possible in CS/IT engineering?

  • Stupid idea (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How likely is it that 20 or 30 years from now humans will even think of programming. Computers are the perfect programmers not people. We just need to get the computers started and stand back.

    People need to supply the human imagination. Children up to about the age of 7 should be allowed to develop their imagination while the brain is most plastic to it. Later they can strengthen their use of rules and cold discipline and control when they become older and more cynical.

    • Re:Stupid idea (Score:5, Informative)

      by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:28PM (#51262403) Homepage Journal
      Computers cannot program themselves. People have been saying what you have for the last 50+ years (1960s). It hasn't happened, and won't happen. AI research has been a dead end for the last 40 years. We can barely even make simple programs that function without flaws. People expect too much progress. Chances are computers 20 years from now will look like the same computers we have today.
      • True. But on the flipside, we (the geek community) have to start recognising the power of declarative programming, and find better ways to offer that as an "in" for newcomers to programming. Imperative programming is inherently against the much-professed principle of "optimise late" because every decision is an implementation decision. Meanwhile, all the abstractions we've made to make imperative programming easier (libraries, interfaces, OO) are nothing more than a halfway-house between imperative and decl

        • With the possible exception of people who go on to be academic mathematicians (or closely related disciplines) I've not met anyone who finds declarative programming an easier introduction to programming than imperative programming. My alma mater tried this with functional languages in the 1990s and gave it away.

          If you look at the languages that non-programmers actually take to, they tend to be dynamically typed imperative languages with a minimum of boilerplate and very forgiving syntax. BASIC, Perl, Jav

          • With the possible exception of people who go on to be academic mathematicians (or closely related disciplines) I've not met anyone who finds declarative programming an easier introduction to programming than imperative programming. My alma mater tried this with functional languages in the 1990s and gave it away.

            I would argue that this is because declarative programming hasn't received enough attention and research, and our declarative languages are just not good enough, and often hampered by bucketloads of compromises. For example, FP suffers from either being pure and unusable, or impure and not really FP anymore. In fact, FP often turns out to be imperative programming rather than declarative. In SML, for example, you need to use local variables rather than repeating even simple terms like squareRoot(x), because

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Computers are great at "connecting the dots". Miraculously so. They're shit at coming up with the dots.

      That was off the cuff, I'll probably find a better expression.
      • Bizarrely, I would have said it the other way round - and probably to mean the same thing. And I don't think either is wrong.

        Forgot who, but somebody said they're great for giving answers but they can't think up questions.

    • what about in 20 years K-12 student loans

    • Yup, just as soon as they can comprehend a spec written by a semi-literate drunken Italian who thinks all technical words are synonyms.

      At that point they'll be prefect at everything and we can all retire. If they let us.

      Have you even heard of Fred Brooks, you utter twerp?

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Computers are exceptionally shoddy to completely unusable "programmers" once you leave behind no-insight-required compiling and localized optimization. I guess you have never seen synthesized code. A good programmer is architect and designer and coder. None of these roles can be filled by software above a very, very low level of difficulty.

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      Programming requires abstract thinking, creativity, and recognition of context. The really hard part is putting yourself in the perspective of another. I'm not even sure you can do this without first recognizing yourself. I have a feeling that if a computer can program, it'll be sentient.
    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      Children up to about the age of 7 should be allowed to develop their imagination while the brain is most plastic to it. Later they can strengthen their use of rules and cold discipline and control when they become older and more cynical.

      Indeed. Five year old kids should play with balls and dolls and cars and sand and mud and Lego, not with computers. Let them discover the world they live in first before chaining them to a computer and letting them do 'tasks.'

  • by Anonymous Coward

    of education and curriculum development, especially at k-12 level.

    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      Centralization of control leaves systems vulnerable to manipulation by powerful interests, public and private. It's not like the state has done a stellar job either.

      • Lack of centralized control is just as vulnerable, and less noticeable. For instance, MS, Apple and Google employ companies that talk to/lobbgy every single school district on their behalf. Okay, I think it's like 82% coverage. But you probably don't notice that.

    • The best evidence to support your argument is their recommendations: "Work collaboratively in clear roles (e.g., pair programming) to construct a problem solution of a sequence of block-based programming commands.

      If this is the future, let's just launch the missiles now and put the poor dog down before it suffers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First graders barely know addition and subtraction. They should be learning basic things like reading.

    Now I just want to homeschool the kids (that I hope, in vain, one day to have) and teach them basics so that they will, like one-eyed men among the blind, know how to read and write and do math in their heads like Americans used to, or like the Indians to whom our jobs get outsourced.

    • Now I just want to homeschool the kids (that I hope, in vain, one day to have) and teach them basics so that they will, like one-eyed men among the blind, know how to read and write and do math in their heads like Americans used to, or like the Indians to whom our jobs get outsourced.

      The one-eyed man in a country of the blind will not only not be king, they will either get killed trying to do something that blind people can do without seeing, or they will be locked up in the loony bin or burned at the stake for "having visions".

      • * spoiler follows *
        That's the outcome in the story of that name.
        * end of spoiler *

        I think he could have marketed it better, to be honest. Vision as a service, or something.

        • I remember that story, having read a later version. Here's H.G.Wells original []
    • by Rolgar ( 556636 )

      You might be interested in Thomas Jefferson Education. They advise a phased learning system, love of learning, reading great books, and a variety of other concepts that you might be interested in.

      First, they recommend letting kids learn through playing and having fun. Then, when they are ready, you start them on a Core, rather like the old reading, writing and arithmetic, although they recommend a character/religion component depending on your values. They don't proscribe what you use for materials, so if y

  • by devforhire ( 2658537 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:17PM (#51262323)
    Not everyone needs to know how to code. What everyone does need to understand is information. How do I find the information I need to solve a problem? How do I discern the quality of that information? I'm I looking at different information or multiple views of the same information. How does visualizing information in different ways help us solve problems.
    • Not everyone needs to know how to code. What everyone does need to understand is information. How do I find the information I need to solve a problem? How do I discern the quality of that information? I'm I looking at different information or multiple views of the same information. How does visualizing information in different ways help us solve problems.

      You realise that's a hugely abstract subject, right? At this age level, you're still teaching kids "no; worms, snakes and eels aren't the same" and "the black bit of your eye is actually a hole, but it doesn't go right into the centre of your head." Before you can teach kids about the abstracts of managing information, you've got to teach them the basics of information handling and manipulation. It's like saying "why are we teaching kids poetry instead of important skills like helicopter piloting?!?"

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      The summary mostly seems to talk about collaboration and problems solving skills. There may be some good things here. Having children place blocks in a certain order so a problem is solved is a good thing, as long as it is concrete. For instance places abstracts steps in order so a task is complete would be a waste of time, but placing a track so a truck could get between two points, or places clothes in an order for dressing would really help kids learn the skills they need. I do find the collaboration
  • How dare someone try to teach something useful to our children? Like collaboration on problem solving tasks? This is a terrible precedent! Don't they know that such education should be limited to the existing technical elite and jealously guarded so we can protect our jobs?
    • Yeah cuz teaching computer programming to a first grader is more important than reading. Moron.
      • by Nermal ( 7573 )

        ...which would be a useful response if anyone was talking about replacing literacy training. Everyone is freaking out as though CS curricula in primary schools is something new, but it's really, really not. We were making turtles move around the screen in LOGO on my school's Commodore 64s in the 80s.

      • Right. Because they are teaching computer programming instead of reading. I didn't realize that they cut reading out of the curriculum and replaced it with programming. Don't be a dick.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Problem solving is not a collaborative task above a not very high level of difficulty. Because above that, it requires insight and the only thing teamwork does is that it makes sure at most one on the team has that insight. Now, describing things accurately, asking precise questions, writing documentation, effective communication, those are useful. But pair-programming does not even work well when you have people with high levels of respective skills. It is a complete bust below that.

  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:22PM (#51262349) Journal
    Dress your child up like an adult and make them do adult things....
  • I have an idea ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:23PM (#51262353) Homepage

    Why don't we let experts on education tell us what children need to know, instead of multinational corporations telling us what they want kids to know for their own personally tailored "workforce of the future"?

    These kids are being set up to be wage slaves which serve the interests of the companies.

    I sincerely doubt any of these companies truly gives a fuck about the future of these kids.

    Five year olds don't need to learn "pair programming".

    So much self-serving bullshit which has nothing at all to do with educating children.

    • Because the 'experts on education' (Read: The DoE) don't know shit, and you and everybody else knows it.

      • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:33PM (#51262445) Homepage

        I know actual teachers, with multiple degrees in the field of education ... and quite frankly I trust them a whole lot more than I trust the self-serving actions of a corporation who ultimately wants more cheap labor.

        I don't trust the motivations here, and I can damned well tell you this isn't evidence based policy ... it's "do what we ask because we're throwing money at you" and it sounds cool.

        This is claiming something to be the way of the future and somehow getting people to follow you hook, line, and sinker into believing you have any idea of what works and what will educate children.

        • Yeah me too.

          Here's the problem, those people aren't making the decisions on teaching, and again, you should know this by just talking with them.

        • Thank you for your support of teachers. I've already reported [] and weighed in [] a few times about this subject, and I'd like to just expand on a few of your points.

          Unfortunately, money speaks, and superintendents listen. When someone walks into a sup's office and says, "I'd like to donate $50,000 to the district to buy more technology," who would say no? And, on a national scale, if Zuck & Gates walk into the president's office to say, "We'd like to donate $1,000,000 [] to get more school districts to code

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            $1m isn't much at all... Intel is spending 300x that much on diversity. They really don't seem that serious.

            How about say a billion dollars, not much split between them. They dodge more tax than that every year, which is money that could have gone to education.

      • He was referring to teachers ass-hole.
        • Didn't you get the memo? Teachers are no longer experts in education - their job is to teach to the test, not teach. And the "experts" are now companies with a vested interest in intermediating themselves into the system (see Pearson as an example) purely for profit, no evidence needed that it works or not because teaching to the test is all that Pearson et al push.
          • Not even any evidence that they score their tests properly. They get the tests back, score them as they see fit, and then destroy the tests. There's no third party verification to make sure that Pearson isn't giving Billy a low grade on his test because low scores mean more money to Pearson for materials to raise Billy's grade. These companies have an INCENTIVE to show students having low scores, the power to produce those low scores, and no checks/balances to catch them in the act.

      • The DoE doesn't know how to produce children with the right skills for the workforce that is what I think I know. But then as a parent I want my kids to be able to develop the right skills for the workforce on their own (multiple times in their life, based on how our economy is working), I want school to prepare them for the intellectual side of life. After school, either in a trade school or professional school, they can learn the specifics to acquire a job.

        Corporations know, sort of, what skills they need

    • Because actual teachers don't give campaign donations. Multinational corporations do. Therefore their input is ranked higher by politicians than the input by actual teachers. It also doesn't help that the multinational corporations say "the teachers are the problem" while giving those donations so teachers are told that not falling in line means they're admitting that they are the problem.

    • Why don't we let experts on education tell us what children need to know

      Because without exception those "experts" have failed children and society for many decades now.

      They are the ones producing coddled children than cannot even handle free speech any longer.

      These kids are being set up to be wage slaves which serve the interests of the companies.

      How are such children not the ultimate wage slaves? They can only live the rest of their lives in a padded box. Indeed, for the last few decades school has been

  • Hmm..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:25PM (#51262377) Journal

    I have my serious doubt that this will really wind up helping many kids.

    I've watched our own kids grow up around computers, tablets, smartphones, Chromebooks issued in class, etc. etc. And even though they do enjoy learning and mastering the interactive games that let you "build worlds" (like Minecraft or the Little Big Planet series on the Playstation), none of this has motivated them to learn to code.

    I feel like there's some pressure on them to develop programming skills because "If you play Minecraft, it teaches some of the basics already!" (and there's always SOME teacher out there trying to use it as a launching platform into some other subject he/she wants to teach). But really, I think they just like interactively creating things to show off to their friends they chat with in the game.

    I remember back when I first discovered computers as a kid and was completely hooked on them. It was SO different back then. The computer you bought basically sat there and did nothing but produce a blinking cursor on your TV screen and expected you to start programming something into it. Sure, you could buy some pre-packaged programs (and we did), but the owner's manual was a complete guide to programming in BASIC on the system -- not just a quick reference on how to plug it in, hook up all of the connections, and a rundown of what each button or switch did on the case.

    I had lots of fun as a kid just keying in programs out of books or magazines and trying to get them to run properly.

    Today's computer experience is pretty vastly removed from that, yet I think some of us are puzzled as to why the kids don't take up coding more often, despite "growing up around computers" and using them since they're old enough to move a mouse.

    It's great to offer kids the OPTION to learn this stuff if they take an interest in it. But adding programming to a basic school curriculum may be a mistake.

    • And yet, people use electricity and few folks want to be electrical engineers; ditto for water, televisions, kitchen appliances, and such.
      • Don't be obtuse - the point was that few of the people who can use a computer will ever need to know anything beyond the on-off button and how to make sure it has power or the battery is charged.
    • If you can use red stone you can use Simulink. Watching people build some of those contraptions reminded me of my day job.

    • Apple computers were a bitch because you actually had to type 'LOAD' and 'RUN', and then they invented the hello program and that was over forever.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:25PM (#51262381) Homepage
    The very same corporations that spent 40 years insisting we didnt need to code, didnt need to understand, and could subsist through blind consumer lust are reaping the rewards of a sustained campaign to maximize short term profit at the expense of corporate sustainability.

    to rephrase, Johnny cant code because Sony, Microsoft, and a wealth of other conglomerates told him he didnt need to. The product would "just work" in the words of Steve Jobs, and in the spirit of the DMCA is was heresy to disassemble, to hack, to question the nature of that great gift that had been bestowed upon him by so many corporate cloistered elite. Step back 20 more years and antithetic culture to nerds and science in the United states ensured even remote interests were extinguished in favour of sportsball, gender-enforced labour roles, and the empty promise of a working class labor market. Corporations are waking up a day late and a dollar short to the party where a six-figure class of non-disposable labor is beginning to not only act as a serious liability, but a serious long term threat to the profitability of labor reforms ushered in during the carter and reagan administration.

    you dont just backflip out of this in a decade with and a hard fast pelvic thrust into the public education system. Charter schools have ensured little Johnny puts more thought into matching his uniform and cleaning his shoes to avoid meaningless conformist regimen than the arithmetic thats thrown at him daily by a wageslave instructor fudging test scores to save his job for another year and make it to some form of retirement. You get out of this in the long term. another 40 years of eschewing stereotypes and building the foundation of good education through building blocks you've torn down for short-term goose to the stakeholders wealth. You fund schools, stop trying to malnurish them with definitions of a tomato as a vegetable on pizza and you repeal the DMCA. whats more, you make sure that the fist school that attempts to railroad a bright young child with an electronics project into prison for terrorism gets the brunt of your reformist policies. You stop funding the political shills in local government that push this kind of FUD and you take it on the chin come tax time. Because if you dont, in another 40 years anyone who likes to code and hack isnt working for you, theyre working on their emigration plan.
    • "Just works" implies that what the system or device does do, it does fairly consistently.

      That does NOT mean there is not room for it to do more, it does not mean that it does everything you want it to.

      I don't see why supposedly technical Slashdotters are so up in arms about kids being sought an important skill that helps them do something THEY want to do, not what the device can do out of the box.

  • hit the books, kids! better learn that C# / Swift which will probably be replaced by 4-5 different languages by the time you escape college.

    I learned BASIC at age 12. At age 20, the choices were BASIC, Cobol, and C. Total fads, 30 years later.

    • C a total fad? I think not.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      I learned C about 30 years ago, when I needed more than the 64kB arrays Turbo Pascal gave me. These skills are still highly useful to me and I just recently finished a large project where C was the only sane option. Of course, C has this tendency to not help bad programmers write shoddy code, it makes them write non-working code. And that is actually an advantage.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:34PM (#51262451) Homepage Journal

    Study systems. SQ3R is *the* study system; SQW3R, PQRST, and other study systems all use synonyms for SQ3R concepts (Survey/Preview, Question, Read, (Self/)Recite, Review/Test). We tell kids to "study" but not how to study. We tell them to take notes, but we don't teach them about organization and its role in memory; we don't give them Affinity Diagrams or other tools to categorize large amounts of related but different information. The most students get are Venn diagrams to compare information.

    The science of expertise. Deliberate practice. Skills and knowledge are refined by identifying your technical weakness in detail and targeting it. We give kids blanket homework--a sheet of mathematics problems; we don't teach kids to identify their weakness in mathematics (e.g. certain types of multiplication problems) and focus their study time on that. We *clog* their study time with useless shit; they quickly and correctly answer the things they know and get marks down on the things they don't, but it's good enough and they need not improve. We actively discourage improvement in this way.

    Mnemonics. Human memory is so intimately familiar to human life you can explain deep, complex, technical concepts of associative and visual memory to first graders and they'll get it. Short-term memory, long-term memory, visualization of concrete concepts (like apples, chairs), lower coherence of abstract concepts (like hunger, happiness), spatial reasoning, associative storage. Even a first-grade child can look inside their own mind and go, "Oh, I see that!" You can readily teach them to apply rhythm and rhyme, fixation of visual images, and mnemonic systems like linking, storytelling, and mind palaces.

    Mental mathematics. Another specific skill like mnemonics, with less-broad application. Arithmetic should not be a point of distress for students; we should teach them up through Geometry in absolute competence, and a strong arithmetic foundation is key to success in this endeavor. Instead we teach them to count on their fingers and carry single-digit overflow. How many people see 7 + 9 and immediately think 8, because 7-1? 6 + 7 and immediately think 3, because 6 - 3? 18, 13, didn't even do the math; I have all the number pairs on 5 and 10 (both ways) memorized, and have seen all the combinations enough times to immediately recognize them. I accumulate a carry appropriately. 12 years of school only taught me to use one method of iterative addition, not the fast method of immediate registration in single-cycle addition.

    With these skills, students learn to learn. They encounter information they cannot take in and they convert it into something they can process. They encounter difficulty in their studies and they identify and correct their specific weaknesses. They gain an advantage against certain types of studies by domain-specific theoretical skills--mental mathematics and algebraic simplification for math; linguistic grammar for foreign languages (one of the possible explanations for Esperanto's perceived propaedeutic properties); music theory for music; visual art theories for visual art.

    A student who understands study methods and the practice of deliberate practice has an immediate advantage in *everything*. This is a person who can rapidly learn to program *correctly*, not just fumble around for a result or perform by rote to satisfy a teacher. This is a person who can learn nuclear physics. This is a person who's 12 years old and already figured out how to model space shuttle re-entries on his computer because he likes space ships and is a giant nerd and spent 6 months studying that sort of thing and learned Python.

    They call us geniuses; they don't realize it's only technique. It's a trade secret, not a genetic supermind.

  • Delusional (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:39PM (#51262503)

    I am currently trying to get an 8 year old to complete hour of code classes. The classes are pretty good, with animated characters and concepts of functions, conditions and so on. But she has just barely enough patience and formal thinking to finish exercises with my help. If I am not around, she just starts randomly twiddling with blocks and gets frustrated that nothing works.

    Now, some 5 year olds may be unusually good at this. But to teach this in classroom environment, with kids of different abilities and one instructor per 20 or more children, you probably need to wait till 4th grade at the earliest. Might be able to have one or two introductory classes to whet the appetite earlier, but not expect to get very far with it. Better to focus on basics like math.

    • You shouldn't even need to whet their appetite. Computers are everywhere - if they want to learn how to program, they will.
      • by iamacat ( 583406 )

        Computers are everywhere, but they don't naturally expose programming tools anymore. It would be better if they did, but we have to work with reality of locked down iPads where you need to pay an annual fee to program.

        • Chipmunk BASIC [] works on Intel Macs, Linux, and 64-bit versions of Windows, including (tested this morning) Windows 8.1, so it should run under 10 as well. The 'B' in BASIC stands for 'Beginners', so why not?

  • Closed fist is a zero. Raised middle finger is a one.
  • They expect 5 year olds to code collaboratively with other 5 year olds?

    I guess once you stop them from eating Playdoh you can do whatever you want.

  • The Simpsons is still airing?
  • They should allow their own devices to be programmed first. A lot of families today only have a phone and a tablet and no other devices. If those are locked down to only play candy crush, what hope is there for kids to learn?

  • by butchersong ( 1222796 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @02:16PM (#51263321)
    This is basically just working with legos or blocks and being able to do simple conditions. Collaboration on something like this seems like a healthy exercise for young kids. Probably better than a lot of the rote learning they are stuck with typically in school. IMO we need more of this type of activity along with classic logic and rhetoric exercises.
  • The ultimate intent of this effort is to bring programming salaries down to burger-flipping money, but instead it might teach kids the value and power of a general-purpose computer, leading to a crash in the demand for walled-garden computing devices. This could also create a more security-aware consumer base which will in turn increase demand for the most highly-skilled programmers, driving salaries up.

  • Teach logic, critical thinking, nutrition, health, personal finance, and civics. THEN code.

  • Who benefits from this? Microsoft, Apple, etc., are in the business of selling product. There is no doubt that very bright people are employed in these companies, but the first priority of each of them is to maximizing shareholder's value. Unless one wants to hold to the position that what is good for the shareholders is good for the masses, then we should not have big businesses designing the curriculum for the future.

    If these companies want to be altruistic, then fine, give the funding to the local scho

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp