Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Education Programming

How Scratch Is Feeding Hacker Values into Young Minds ( 48

Reader mirandakatz writes: It's the 10th anniversary of Scratch, the kids programming language that's become a popular tool for training the next generation of minds in computer science. But as Steven Levy writes at Backchannel, Scratch's real value is how it imparts lessons in sharing, logic, and hackerism: 'A product of the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is steeped in a complicated set of traditions -- everything from educational philosophy to open source activism and the pursuit of artificial life. The underpinnings of this tool subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, convey a set of values through its use... These values include reverence of logic, an unshakeable belief in the power of collaboration, and a celebration of the psychic and tangible rewards of being a maker.'
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Scratch Is Feeding Hacker Values into Young Minds

Comments Filter:
  • Flash (Score:4, Informative)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @01:48PM (#54362815) Homepage

    Just tried this out because I was curious. It requires Adobe Flash. Already lost interest, sadly. And it looked kinda cool to tinker with, too!

    • Re:Flash (Score:5, Funny)

      by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @01:50PM (#54362825) Journal
      Can't you just pretend that Flash is a cornerstone of open source activism?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Scratch has been in the Debian repos for a long time, and doesn't require Flash at all.

      • In fact, requires Adobe Air... (Adobe AIR internally uses the Flash Player rendering engine and ActionScript 3.0 as the primary programming language) Looks like older Scratch versions (1.4) already included Adobe Air and do not required install it from Adobe site.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Scratch 1.4 doesn't use Flash or AIR. Actually it is in the ordinary deposits of Debian, so it definitely doesn't depend on proprietary software.

  • These values include reverence of logic, an unshakeable belief in the power of collaboration, and a celebration of the psychic and tangible rewards of being a maker.

    Get a load of this bullshit.

    You want to teach programming, then teach programming. Don't make it out to be some sort of overarching value system.

    • Why not both? Here is a great site that teaches programming for free and also provides free philosophy lessons:

      http://programming-motherfucke... []

      Please read the Manifesto, it could change your life!

      • Ah yes, I'll just shoot this URL to my nephew. I'm sure his parents will be pleased.
        • There is a cleaner version at [] but it doesn't have the Manifesto, just the programming links.

          They sell the T-shirt in different versions, you can get it in ROT13 if you want to be SFW.

  • Wont someone PLEASE think of the CHILDREN!!!

  • by CustomSolvers2 ( 4118921 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @02:14PM (#54363007) Homepage
    While giving a programming advice to an anonymous, probably-native-English-speaker someone, I said something about writing the code from scratch and that person answered "No. I want to learn a proper language". Back then I didn't even know what this Scratch was, apparently an extremely limited environment for kids to play. What puzzled me of this association of "from scratch" with a so unrelated-to-programming toy was how easily a so wrong idea appeared as evident. The programming knowledge of that person (as per our short conversation) was extremely low, most likely non-existent; but s/he wasn't aware about that fact, perhaps because of having once used this Scratch thing and assuming that this was all what programming was. I don’t remember the exact question, but it was a very simple concept like why the loop was showing 2 in the second iteration? who wasn’t able to grasp despite my explanations; was expecting an even simpler explanation?!.

    I cannot be against what I don't know (as said, never really used that thing) and much less regarding a field outside my expertise like educating kids, but am certainly against pseudo-/partially-/dishonestly-educating people by over-simplifying what isn't simple. This is especially important in fields like programming, which are usually associated with long learning periods and where only certain types of personalities tend to succeed. Knowing a bit of everything sounds good to me, but only within the right context (e.g., real-life applicability of that knowledge).
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Scratch is somewhat similar to python, but you stack visual puzzle pieces together to write the "code". Its easy to learn and visually understand basic logical programming. The problem comes in the disconnect between the visual puzzle pieces and the actual lines of code you are generating.

      • As said, teaching kids isn't my work. If experts consider that learning Scratch is better, I guess that I would agree with them. I was just trying to highlight that learning the actual applicability of the given knowledge is also very important. People with a distorted perception of the real value of their knowledge might be even more problematic than those not having that knowledge.
  • This just in - UNIX terminology promotes black magic. Windows daemons are called TSRs, which clearly is a Dungeons and Dragons plug, and therefore also black magic. Insidious! Let's pilot a turtle through the maze of kids programming languages, see if maybe we can find a cure for lisp. Seriously, was this post a Scratch plug or some kind of trojan designed to scare middle class conservative parents (or excite their children) and deepen alignment between makers and the left? Did BASIC teach me the moral

    • MS-DOS daemons are called TSRs. I don't think the 'terminate and stay resident' system call is present in modern Windows.

    • If BASIC is a virus that causes brain damage, Scratch might very well be a disguised Argonaut.

      I do think it is useful to have programming languages that are purported to be easy, so that these people will give it a try and find out that it is too hard for them. Anybody who does it and is good at it is going to quickly understand the limitations and move on with no harm done.

      And every UNIX gnome knows that black magic is not permitted in userspace. Not even in your favorite daemon.

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @02:43PM (#54363229) Journal

    I live in Sweden, I've been invited to those so called scratch introductory courses, because I sometimes work as a substitute teacher, and now - Scratch has been introduced to the Swedish learning institution because the government has finally realized we need to get kids to code (which I fully agree with BTW.)

    But scratch?

    Not sure about that. I tried introducing the kids at my school to Arduino - and they went NUTS with happiness and excitement. Why? Because it was that much cooler. The kids are not idiots, they immediately recognized scratch as some 4 year old pedagogical learning tool made to be a "learning tool" instead of something cool they would actually use in their everyday life. Arduino on the other hand, when they could plug some 2 dollar electrical device into their laptops and code on it, and leave the code on the device to perform interesting functions like sensing light, moving a motor around, checking a switch or displaying something cool on an oled display - now THIS is what got the kids, not that pedagogical "make that flash-like-cat-thing-move-on-the-screen" stuff.

  • >> celebration of the psychic and tangible rewards of being a maker

    I once thought I'd like to be a maker too, but the thought of wriggling through sand (itchy!) and just spending most of my days chasing after the "thump, thump, thump" turned me off.
    • Yeah, and once you've read the past and future histories you realize that all that psychic knowledge might not be very fulfilling compared to just huddling in a cave somewhere.

  • Stencyl is like Scratch only better.
  • "These values include reverence of logic, an unshakeable belief in the power of collaboration, and a celebration of the psychic and tangible rewards of being a maker."

    "No make things-only consume."

    What the unholy hot taint of Beelzabub is wrong with these people?

  • I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read the referenced article. Scratch is one of the mainstays (with Python, for older, more advanced kids) of [] and has been for 4/5 years, at least.

    We also teach it as part of Raspberry Pi Jams: [] as well as assorted hardware and robotics projects based on the Raspberry PI.

    Most of this is volunteer supported. I've just finished a year in a local primary, that's probably 1st to 5th grade in the US sy

A fail-safe circuit will destroy others. -- Klipstein