Low floors, low ceilings, and Alice
Matthias Felleisen just introduced me to the phrase "low floor, low ceiling", which characterises precisely the worry about Kodu I expressed in my previous post: languages with a low overhead when getting started may offer low payback later.
As an example of this effect, he suggested the following critique of the innovative Alice programming environment: Through the Looking Glass: Teaching CS0 with Alice. (Thanks to Shriram Krishnamurthi for the precise reference.) I don't consider Alice in the same bowdlerized category as Kodu, so I was surprised to see that "low floor, low ceiling" might still apply.
Meanwhile, Matthias, Shriram, and others offer Teach Scheme/Reach Java as an alternative, offering a curriculum based on widely-used professional programming languages to high school and middle school children. (Addendum: Matthias and Shriram inform me that the TeachScheme website is out of date, and the preferred alternative is Program by Design.)
Java, yuck. Have a look at kojo (http://www.kogics.net/sf:kojo). On the surface it is logo-like DSL and programming environment. Underneath the full power of scala is accessible, wrapped in a modified netbeans environment (so syntax colouring and much more). My 7-year old grandson loves it, but it does need a bit of adult expertise to explain error messages at the moment. The author is working on it.
But if you are prepared to look at Java, then it's worth a look at greenfoot: http://www.greenfoot.org/ I;d rather let 1000 flowers bloom in this area than have our opinions decide what children should or should't see.
Simon, the educational CS community sadly doesn't really share your catholic view. It's driven by chasing one "savior" after another, and by a pursuit of personalities.
Matthias and Shriram inform me that the TeachScheme website is out of date, and the preferred alternative is Program by Design.
Citeseer link for the looking glass paper, for those of us who are paywall-impaired: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.109.2023Post a Comment