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Fine article, and what it (tongue-in-cheek) calls “cheating” is just what us self-taught automators call “making the machine do all the crapwork for you”. It’s just unfortunate that the greater tooling and culture currently available is such a sprawling hostile ballache that even the most enthusiastic cheater will be driven to conclude that this shit would be (and likely is) quicker and easier just to do by hand.

The foundational mistake is “teaching programming”. The goal should be to instill (“teach”) critical thinking and analytical problem solving skills, and a “programming environment” just another tool, like pencil and paper, which the student can use when exercising those skills on real-world problems.

Whereas “teaching programming” is teaching language features: what all the buttons are and what they do when you push them. Thus mastery of button-pushing becomes feted as the end-goal of itself, instead of being just some tiresome but necessary tool-practising crapwork (like memorizing the ten-times tables and drawing all the letters from A to Z) that you have to go through on the way to achieving your true goals (which can be anything).

Once again, I point to Papert’s Logo[1] as a good demonstration of just how simple that PE can—and should—be to serve that purpose. Logo’s core concepts can be communicated in just three steps:

1. This is a Word.

2. This is how you Perform words.

3. This is how you Add your own words.

Anything else that the platform provides, such as its dictionary of pre-defined words, can and should be explorable and discoverable; something today’s hardware and software can support and encourage without blinking. Let the students teach that crap to themselves if/as/when they need it, and keep the adults on hand just to observe when students start running themselves down a dead-end and prompt them to other possibilities they had not realized/considered.

Oh, and it really should go without saying that the PE’s error messaging must be the top of their class. Because errors aren’t the “wrong answers” of which a student should feel embarrassed and ashamed, but fresh questions in their own right which spark awareness, exploration, self-correction, and insight.

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[1] https://www.amazon.com/Mindstorms-Children-Computers-Powerfu...




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