Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Meanwhile, at code.org (worrydream.com)
227 points by nickmain 1346 days ago | hide | past | web | 123 comments | favorite



> This is the depth of thought that powers nationwide policy decisions. But hey, congratulations to musician and entertainer will.i.am for at least having an educational philosophy that’s not completely unreasonable or horrifying.

Quite frankly I'm shocked and confused by some of the negativity I've seen expressed (including those from the HN community) towards code.org, and the idea of programming as a basic literacy in general.

It seems like these people will do almost anything to find something about this idea to pick on, ridicule, discredit, and otherwise attack. Seriously, last time this came up on HN the majority of the discussion was about how horrible it is that this movement uses the phrase "learn to code" rather than "learn to program".

Now it's ad hominem attacks against musicians/artists advocating literacy and education -- and what do those attacks say? "Congratulations [...] for having an educational philosophy that's not completely unreasonable and horrifying." What a disgusting backhanded "compliment". Is there something about being a musician or artist that disallows one from having a valid intellectual opinion taken for its own sake, without being patronized?

"Aww isn't that cute! A musician/artist having an intellectual idea that isn't completely terrible -- like a quaint little animal trying to imitate us true intellectuals up here in our high tower of superiority." I exaggerate, but this is basically the elitist mentality I perceive behind the actual quote.

To me, this comes off as a desperate attempt to defame this movement because it threatens to demote the status of basic technology roles from "elite magic" to "basic literacy" -- and to some people, apparently that's not an amazing social good, but a terrifying prospect of power loss. Am I way off base here in perceiving this?

To address the main point: So what if some person never intended to claim that learning to program makes you smarter. Coding is becoming more popular, more socially acceptable, and viewed more positively not only as a career choice but as a basic literacy that will be extremely important in the future (which is true). That's a good thing.


> "Aww isn't that cute! A musician/artist having an intellectual idea that isn't completely terrible -- like a quaint little animal trying to imitate us true intellectuals up here in our high tower of superiority." I exaggerate, but this is basically the elitist mentality I perceive behind the actual quote. Am I way off base here?

I get the impression that this comment has more to do with contrasting will.i.am's statement with the other statements on code.org for effect than it has to do with specifically putting down will.i.am.

With this comment, the linked piece seems to be implying that the statements made by Zuckerberg, Clinton et al are inspired by wrongheaded beliefs about the purpose of education, and that only will.i.am's statement comes anywhere close to hitting the right tone. I read this comment as genuinely complimentary, albeit weak.

As I read it, Bret Victor's critique of code.org is more nuanced than the usual complaints: it stems from a disagreement with code.org's implicit claim that programming should be taught in schools because programming is currently a high-value skill, in terms of the amount of money you can earn by doing it professionally. He seems to think that school shouldn't be primarily about training people to be "useful" to employers or the government in the short term. I'm somewhat inclined to agree.

> To me, this comes off as a desperate attempt to defame this movement because it threatens to demote the status of basic technology roles from "elite magic" to "basic literacy" -- and to some people, apparently that's not an amazing social good, but a terrifying prospect of power loss. Am I way off base here in perceiving this?

In the context of Victor's body of work (which is focused more or less entirely on making the incredible power of computers more accessible to more people), I have a hard time believing that any such motivation underlies the linked piece. While I think there definitely exists such a motivation in other criticisms of the learn-to-code meme, I don't think it has much to do with Victor's critiques.


Going a little tangential.

> He seems to think that school shouldn't be primarily about training people to be "useful" to employers or the government in the short term. I'm somewhat inclined to agree.

I entirely agree; it's something I've been trying to point out for a few years now.

Something people don't recognize about, say, feminist theory on agency and objectification is that it's a subject that applies everywhere. In this case, it's the objectification of people in general as tools for businesses and governments, rather than as individuals with their own particular needs and desires with intrinsic worth. We're uninterested in discussing what a student wants to learn and instead prefer discussing a paternalistic notion of what a student ought to be required to learn.

For some reason, we've lost the vocabulary for discussing things outside of an economic context. It's probably because bringing up questions of morality is scary: between the polarizing force of political religion and the lack of education in forming one's own moral and ethical system, moral claims find little traction unless they're merely repeating something with wide support.


> With this comment, the linked piece seems to be implying that the statements made by Zuckerberg, Clinton et al are inspired by wrongheaded beliefs about the purpose of education, and that only will.i.am's statement comes anywhere close to hitting the right tone. I read this comment as genuinely complimentary, albeit weak.

Fair enough, but is Gates's claim that "learning to write programs stretches your mind" really that far off or that much worse? Or that "an understanding of computer science is becoming increasing essentially in today's world"? Maybe it's a trivial point, but is it as offensive as this link makes it out to be?


I think the point Bret Victor is trying to make is that what he perceives as the real value of programming (its use as a powerful extension of the programmer's cognitive abilities) is absent entirely from the perception of programming as an inherently good thing that code.org and related groups are pushing.

Programming is, and ought to be seen as, merely a means to an end – not an end in and of itself. A movement that gets programming into to schools by claiming code is itself a Good Thing will inevitably bring into existence a programming curriculum that ignores the important abstract stuff about coding-as-a-concept (the new ways in which computers can extend the mind) and focuses instead on the concrete "implementation details" of programming today (text files, the command line, and all that other baggage from 20 years ago with which programmers are still saddled).

Basically: the reasoning is important, the code isn't, and code.org is all about the code.


> Programming is, and ought to be seen as, merely a means to an end – not an end in and of itself.

This is the essential piece I thought Bret made clear by highlighting the choice quotes from Seymour Papert.

Treating programming as a means to an end has very pragmatic ramifications for programming. It means we can question the value of our tools when they do not serve our goals. Otherwise we are the mercy of them (and entrench the status quo as state-of-the-art).

One question I've been grappling with is why it takes so many human-hours of work to produce conceptually simple programs.


Except that these quotes are also about coding as the mreasnsd to an end. The ends may not be as elevated, but employment, pride, security and such are powerfully motivating ends. I think its really amazing to think about the intellectual power of coding -- I think philosophy tends to pay more attention to physics and not enough to engineering -- but more immediate human goals are perfectly appropriate ones to serve as the ends for which learning to code is the means.


> As I read it, Bret Victor's critique of code.org is more nuanced than the usual complaints: it stems from a disagreement with code.org's implicit claim that programming should be taught in schools because programming is currently a high-value skill, in terms of the amount of money you can earn by doing it professionally. He seems to think that school shouldn't be primarily about training people to be "useful" to employers or the government in the short term. I'm somewhat inclined to agree.

I'm inclined to agree (with what you explained) as well. But, if this is conveyed by the article/graphic, it sure is subtle. I think it would have been a better article if he just explained his complaint (if it is as you say), rather than making a mockery of celebrity quotes with big sarcastic quotes next to pictures of their faces.

> In the context of Victor's body of work (which is focused more or less entirely on making the incredible power of computers more accessible to more people), I have a hard time believing that any such motivation underlies the linked piece. While I think there definitely exists such a motivation in other criticisms of the learn-to-code meme, I don't think it has much to do with Victor's critiques.

Yeah, I was mostly referring to the negativity towards code.org and coding as basic literacy in general, not this author specifically. But that's good to know at least in this case he's not one of those people.


> But, if this is conveyed by the article/graphic, it sure is subtle. I think it would have been a better article if he just explained his complaint (if it is as you say), rather than making a mockery of celebrity quotes with big sarcastic quotes next to pictures of their faces.

Yeah – it's entirely possible that I'm putting my own words about the learn-to-code movement into someone else's mouth unwarranted. I think the linked piece is more of a frustration-fueled rant than a fully-thought-out criticism, and that the author is trying to quickly capture the spirit of a half-formed argument that he hasn't yet fully explored.

At any rate, it resonated with me, although it took me a few reads to get the gist of what he was trying to say.


Here's the gist if what he was saying https://gist.github.com/8394393. Sorry, I had to ;).


I'm all for making Computer Science education more accessible, but this code.org initiative and its "coding is easy!" and "everyone should learn to code!" and "you only need basic addition and subtraction" BS is really insulting to people who've actually put in the difficult effort and long hours of study and practice it takes to become a professional: http://norvig.com/21-days.html

All Zuckerberg, Gates and the other Valley backers of code.org want is more code monkeys who are just competent enough to glue together stuff they don't fully understand and couldn't implement if asked to, so they can drive down the wages of actual, competent programmers. It's the same reason they support immigration reform.

And why the push to flood the market with "coders," when health care, not software, is bankrupting us as a country? Why isn't there a "everyone should learn medicine" initiative? Isn't your health important to you? Obviously because it would be illegal, and US doctors (the highest paid in the world) would never allow it.


> I'm all for making Computer Science education more accessible, but this code.org initiative and its "coding is easy!" and "everyone should learn to code!" and "you only need basic addition and subtraction" BS is really insulting to people who've actually put in the difficult effort and long hours of study and practice it takes to become a professional: http://norvig.com/21-days.html

Several of my friends work in IT, and pull in decent salaries. I don't think any one of them has been writing code on a continual basis for ten years. In the UK the MCITP course costs about £1500 - £2000, takes about a year to complete and you can land a decent job with it. The main reason I don't have an MCITP is because I can't afford one, I need to get a job to pull in the necessary funds. I can't get a job because I'm overqualified for a lot of them, or I can't afford the courses if I'm underqualified.

If I ask a question about computing, I often get the response: "Visit this website". If someone asks me a question about computing and I can sort of answer it, I will try and explain it to the best of my ability.

It was only around two years ago I was able to get my own computer. I had been trying to get one for around 5 - 6 years, but couldn't due to lack of funds. Meanwhile someone at the job centre says I should stick to what I am capable of. Said someone believes I am barely capable of even filling out an agreement form, so it is completed for me without my permission. I noticed around six or seven spelling and grammatical errors.

Oh, did I mention that on the rare occasion I do manage to get a full time minimum wage job, it is often accompanied with abusive behaviour. By abusive behaviour I mean being shouted and sworn at (phrases include "fuck off", "you fucking idiot", "cunting", "that kid is fucking thick as two short planks", "stay out of my way or I'll fucking throw it at ya", "you trying to do my fucking job?").

I'm sorry, but I don't see what is particularly insulting about "code.org", I didn't notice swearing or abusive/threatening comments on the site. Perhaps my standards are different to yours.

EDIT: messed up the formatting, again.


>Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston doled out awards on Thursday night to online applications built by young immigrants during a 25-hour marathon coding session at LinkedIn’s headquarters.

The “hackathon” event sponsored by Zuckerberg’s political advocacy group, FWD.us, brought together a group of 20 young tech-savvy immigrants who came to the United States illegally with their families as children and are not citizens.

Coders of the winning apps received prizes such as Microsoft Surface tablets, Cisco Webcams, Facebook apparel and free storage space from Dropbox.

The aim of FWD.us's hackathon is to pressure the House to break its logjam on immigration legislation by highlighting the technical talents of young immigrants who are living in the country illegally -- often called “Dreamers” in relation to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act — like the coders participating in the event.

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/191176-z...


If you were aware of Bret's previous work, then you would know that he's got nothing against code.org specifically. He's addressing the culture. He's been talking about Mindstorms and programming literacy since before code.org existed. He totally agrees that people should learn programming, and he has no problem with the word "code." He simply disagrees with the motivation—he thinks (and I agree) that people should learn to program because it helps people think, and helps people learn. Not because programming is profitable.

Also, you completely misunderstood the bit about will.i.am. It was a compliment, not an insult. He was saying that will.i.am has a better opinion on programming, as a musician, than all of these other people who should know better (public policy makers and programmers).


> he thinks (and I agree) that people should learn to program because it helps people think, and helps people learn.

Read it again. He specifically called that out as a terrible idea.

Bret believes in Seymour Papert's vision, where coding is not an end in itself, but a vessel for experiential learning about important ideas in mathematics and other fields.


I think you misunderstood me. When I said "helps people think/learn", I meant by USING programming, not by being TREATED with programming. This is the same distinction Bret is trying to make.


I'm interested: what is it about the wrd 'code' that you think people don't like? Do you think such people are generally coming from an elitist view, or just a pedantic one?


I think the problem here is that programmers don't agree with the way this is being marketed. All the talk about how programming will make you rich and it's so easy is a bit superficial. Personally, I understand that this is the most effective way to carry out this campaign and get the policy makers and the laymen to buy in.


I wrote a huge mess that, on second thought, I put away just because I don't know Bret Victor and shouldn't shove words into his mouth.

But to me, I think you hit the nail on the head. I'm sorry, but this is a field were our median income is 50% more than the median income of the rest of the country. It's also a field that you don't need to go to college to join, can educate yourself on how to join it by using sites like Code.org and other online resources, and has a ton of demand, meaning you won't be out of work like your Dad has been, several times in the last few years.

To anyone going through school right now, then coming home and seeing the news their parents are watching, or look at the front page of the newspaper their parents are reading, or listen to an adult at their soccer game or the mall or church, all of this sounds like a way out of it, a way to give yourself something better than that.

Why in the hell is it so wrong to want a better life than what your parents had?


Because learning to code just so you can code doesn't in any way mean you are more likely to be employed in the future, especially if there is a successful push for people to learn to code just for the sake of having more programming literacy. That's not meant as a "let's keep it elite" comment, but as a "you're teaching the wrong thing" comment. As much as it may seem teaching people to code is teaching them to fish, when it's pushed this way it's closer to giving them a fish. Teaching them to reason and using programming as a method to teach them interesting concepts is teaching them to fish.


The problem is, we don't know what a "successful push" is. For all we know, "success" is half the world becoming programmers. We don't know what our upper limit is on this yet, as we've never been close to hitting it.

And as to teaching reasoning: I'll be honest, the best teachers in the world have trouble teaching this to anyone, and someone is wanting a website to do it?


Here's how I see this: programmers and coders are thoroughly ambiguous terms that mean different things to different people. If you think they equate to engineer, then it sounds like a good thing. If you think they equate to mechanic, then maybe not so much. I'm not sure half the world becoming mechanics necessarily has much benefit. Half the world as engineers, maybe so.

My take on the post is that Bret is viewing code.org, or at least the page he criticizes, as trying to make mechanics, when they should be trying to make engineers. Seen in that light, the quotes do take on sort of a different tone.


I think I would disagree on this point. Programmers and mechanics both share a similar ability: the knowledge to make machines amplify our work output. The more folks with these force multiplier skills, the higher the productivity.

Now, I agree that in principle, Engineers design and build those type of systems. However, I think as morr people are educated in those domains (programming or mechanical aptitudes), you will begin to find more self-taught engineers with the skills to bring ideas to life.


I think you're right and wrong: Programmers can be similar to mechanics, but that can alternatively be similar to engineers. It's all semantics, but the people taking part in the whole "learn to code" thing are most likely going to be the mechanics of programming: they can, if given oversight and clear instructions, build lots of things.

On the other side, there are those who are going to be doing the oversight and giving the clear instructions, who can build something from vague requirements with minimal fuss. There are also lots of people in between, but everything is easier when you put it in absolute terms.


In many countries, a professional is considered to be a banker, lawyer or a doctor. Programmers are not given the same respect.

Now with the importance of technology in our day-to-day lives, there is a chance for programmers and those working in IT to be considered as professionals, as equals.

Instead we have people within the industry running around describing themselves as 'geeks' and 'nerds' and 'hackers'. Meanwhile those outside the industry claim that programming is easy, anyone can do it, all you need is a computer and a couple of lessons.

You would not find people saying the same thing about doctors or lawyers, and you would not find doctors or lawyers denigrating themselves.


Being a doctor and practicing laws have much higher barriers to entry for purely practical reasons, not because of some goal of these professionals form "denigrating" themselves. They are not as nearly as accessible as programming and carry much higher consequences for incompetence (which also clearly still happens quite often regardless).

Stop being such an elitist. Just like any profession there are worlds of difference between the different levels of skill and competence, that doesn't mean you're denigrating yourself by trying to make it more accessible for kids.


It is entirely reasonable to demand some professionalism and set some standards in fields besides medicine and law. Already, many engineering disciplines are regulated and require a license to practice.

As computers become more and more woven into society, the consequences of having incompetent programmers are becoming more and more severe. Just one example currently in the news is the Target breach. Millions of people are affected by that. Or healthcare.gov, anyone?

Now just imagine when cars drive themselves, computers control your money (bitcoin), and "apps" supervise your grandparents' health.

The idea that all of this critical technical infrastructure is built out by Pepsi-fueled kids who reject education, experience, and scientific rigor in favor of whatever circle-jerk beliefs they invent amongst themselves as they "hack" on PHP, is frankly appalling. Such teams are the go-to choice for clueless corporate PHBs who only see dollars per hour as the hiring criteria.

But hey, that's the status quo, and I doubt you'll ever see companies move to be in favor of setting some professional standards, because the business priority is cheaper workers.


Great post.


This is really starting to sound like the dotcom era where anybody who wrote a line of HTML could say that they were a software developer.


It's worse.

Apparently you can take a random homeless person, give them a few lessons, and hey presto you have an app maker.


Well, 99% of apps don't do anything useful - they're either for killing time or an invention of marketing department hell-bent on selling you more of the stuff you don't need. So I'm not surprised that it's not difficult to build something that can compete in this market.


I'm not entirely sure what point you're trying to make but I've always felt like a professional, maybe because I mostly worked at tech companies. And anyone going around calling themselves "geek", "nerd", or "hacker", probably aren't one.


See post by wes-exp above.


It's the same crowd that wants Linux server administration to be obtuse (they want to preserve their power).


>Aww isn't that cute! A musician/artist having an intellectual idea that isn't completely terrible

I think it's less to do with him being a musician/artist than with him being will.i.am, notorious "My Humps" backup singer. If it had been Thom Yorke or Getty Lee or someone then I think they'd probably have been (reasonably or not) treated with a little more respect.


Thom's AMA would suggest otherwise.

I love Radiohead, but... come on.


What's an AMA? Did he speak about coding and its role in society?


No, I meant the respect part. Thom is known for his cryptic ambiguity and often surreal sentence formation, so it's doubtful his opinion would be held in higher regard than anyone else's.


I personally think that the whole "learn to code" meme is a little silly, but I also think that everyone should be exposed to programming at least once. I think that things like code.org are pretty cool, but the tone most of those projects use is a little off putting to me. They all just sound like "you must learn to code or you're a dinosaur". I don't think that's true, but I also don't think people should be as averse to programming as they are. Or computers for that matter.

What's more important in my mind is gleaning a little bit about how computers work. Nothing overly complicated like how a processor or memory work, but that every program is basically just a set of logic routines. The easiest way to do that is probably by teaching a little programming (or logical thinking).


> Quite frankly I'm shocked and confused by some of the negativity I've seen expressed (including those from the HN community) towards code.org, and the idea of programming as a basic literacy in general.

I couldn't agree more, I thought code.org was really cool, educational and entertaining.

I take the view that the less money or resources you have, the more education you require. I currently have £0.90 in my bank account, so I need all the knowledge and skills I can get my hands on.

> To me, this comes off as a desperate attempt to defame this movement because it threatens to demote the status of basic technology roles from "elite magic" to "basic literacy" -- and to some people, apparently that's not an amazing social good, but a terrifying prospect of power loss. Am I way off base here in perceiving this?

To be less verbose, RTFM. RTFM seems to be applicable only when some noob asks a question; when a noob makes a statement that is considered incorrect, you get loads of experts correcting said noob. A lot of the time the original noob statement was misunderstood because the experts misread the statement. I have even come across this on HN.

I started coding at the grand old age of 31 and have no background in CS, so I tend to be treated like a noob, even though I can write a quine in C. A few months ago I was chatting with a friend of mine who works in software development about linked lists, the first sentence I uttered went straight over his head.


There's failure in logic that comes from thinking that code.org's public-facing copy is the same as their policy. Has anyone bothered to read the policy? Does it say the same "coding = make smarter" thing?

Though I guess it isn't necessarily stupid to attack this kind of normalization, but I certainly don't think people will be worse off if they learn the basics of CS and a programming language. At the very least it gives them another tool with which they can solve problems. I guess the danger comes from going so "EVERYONE MUST LEARN CODE HOW TO DO" crazy that it comes at the expense of other education endeavors, instead of an enrichment on top of what already exists.


I think it's highly likely that Bret is completely unaware of how much time will.i.am spends at MIT with Prof. Patrick Winston, and how deeply he cares about technology. In fact, I would bet that will.i.am spends more time in dialogue with people at CSAIL then Bret does.

http://sliceofmit.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/friend2.jpg


Considering Bret Victor lives on the west coast and CSAIL is on the east coast...this isn't too hard to believe. Its not like even most CS PL academics are spending time in dialogue with people from CSAIL.


Actually you are the one who is bashing him. He just merely pointed out that the claim learning to program does not necessarily make you smarter. He is not ridiculing, discrediting or otherwise attacking anything. He might even agree with you. Your claim that this is an attempt to defame this movement is illogical. Everyone has their own opinion learn to accept it, whether you agree with him or not.


I read the will.i.am bit differently, in that of all the quotes out there, his is the only one that is not unreasonable and focuses on the student, in comparison to the assorted political and business folks who are saying "learn to code because we want to use you". In my mind, Gates' is somewhat decent too, but a bit optimistic (per Papert above).


Ad hominem? Really, where?


"Aww isn't that cute! A musician/artist having an intellectual idea that isn't completely terrible -- like a quaint little animal trying to imitate us true intellectuals up here in our high tower of superiority." I exaggerate, but this is basically the elitist mentality I perceive behind the actual quote.

Put down those quote marks until you've learned how to use them properly. We've seen the damage that can do in pg's recent and unfortunate tarring with the 'sexist' brush.


You're wrong to imply that quote marks should never be used this way. You knew that the quote-marked text was just a rhetorical paraphrasing to make a point, and so would any reasonable person. The context makes it completely obvious that it's not an actual quotation.


> "Put down those quote marks until you've learned how to use them properly."

Speaking of elitist mentality...


I'm either being whooshed real hard or you're serious.


You surely shared this so I can weigh in. No? Not really? Well, here's my opinion anyway. In this infographic Bret Victor claims that expecting college education to prepare you for a day job is an invalid idea. He also implies that an opinion of an MIT mathematician is inherently more trustworthy and correct than opinions of dozens of business leaders, politicians, educators, astronauts, and, oh, Stephen Hawking (“Whether you want to uncover the secrets of the universe, or you just want to pursue a career in the 21st century, basic computer programming is an essential skill to learn.“). Oh, you missed that in his infographic? It's probably because it conveniently wasn't there. Check out the full list at http://code.org/quotes

But really, is it fair to compare a long, structured statement with brief quotes that are meant to be an effective marketing tool? Before you cringe at the dirty m-word, consider what is being marketed here. Kids now learn creationism, liberal arts, and opinionated history at school. Coding is a refreshingly logical, concrete and objective field of study. It's worth getting it to the 90% of high schools that don't teach it yet, even if it ends up being trivial if-then-else turtle-make-30-steps-forward. We're at a time where it's more about simply getting the foot in the door.

Then again, it's easier to fire up Illustrator and call bullshit on an initiative to bring more rational education to the curriculum. This is the depth of thought that powers elitism and the status quo. Snarky infographics that suggest that programming is worthless without tying it to specific so called Powerful Ideas are harmful. Even if they're drawn by a world-class designer and electrical engineer. Or maybe especially then.


But is it more rational education? I think his point is that programming as an end itself does little to help empower students. Programming as a tool to enable further exploration of higher concepts is the goal he thinks we should be pursuing, and if code.org presents programming as the goal and ignores why, then I think he's justified in his criticism.

I think it's worth examining history for a parallel. If in the 1920's there was a large push towards mechanical knowledge of the populace (but not necessarily science and engineering) because an understanding of mechanical engines is increasingly essential in todays world, we need 120,000 trained mechanics every year, and the policy at Boeing is literally to hire as many talented mechanics as they can find, I think in hindsight I might also say that it sounds a bit like they are just trying to fill an economic need. Which is fine. But Bret Victor seems to care about teaching and learning, and code.org, from it's main page, seems to care little about that.


The extent to which some people here are feeling personally slighted I think kind of proves Brett's point.


> In this infographic Bret Victor claims that expecting college education to prepare you for a day job is an invalid idea.

No, he opposes forming policy around the idea that the primary purpose of education should be vocational. In reality, most US education policy already works this way, so completely divorced from any value judgement, as a student it would be foolish to pretend it isn't already true.

> Oh, you missed that in his infographic? It's probably because it conveniently wasn't there.

Maybe he left it out of the post because he is interested in criticizing a subset of the marketing, not because he wants to lambast code.org and needs to hide the fact that many of the quotations are agreeable.


No, he's just being effective. The problem with people who write a lot of meaningful things is that some of it is just useless.

The website design is good and effective and a lot of people need to learn from him. If you think his idea is bad it's not going to work writing this, you have to actually fight the war.


Probably best viewed in light of his main site[1] (Warning! May result in feelings of inadequacy), where he goes to great length to do exactly what he thinks these people aren't, explain complex ideas and concepts using programs, programming and the resulting visualizations.

[1]: http://worrydream.com/


"Warning! May result in feelings of inadequacy"

Ha ha...yea, usually I get inspired by other people's projects, but visiting worrydream.com just makes me want to quit everything.


Yeah, The first time I saw it was back in late 2011 when Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction[1] was linked. After viewing the main site, and sharing it with some friends and co-workers, the feeling was almost unanimous.

[1]: http://worrydream.com/LadderOfAbstraction/


Browsing through his site, all the demonstrations seem to be smoke and mirrors -- or at least props to portray ideas rather than actual tools to use. Just out of curiosity, has he made anything I can actually use? Or does he have any work that is particularly substantial?


or at least props to portray ideas rather than actual tools to use

Exactly. He is thoroughly invested in using technology and programming to teach ideas, concepts and ways to think.

Just out of curiosity, has he made anything I can actually use? Or does he have any work that is particularly substantial?

His CV[1] link has interesting stuff, but you may not find something immediately useful on his site. Light table was inspired by one of his talks[2] (when I first saw light table I thought it was him following through on the idea).

[1]: http://worrydream.com/cv/bret_victor_resume.pdf

[2]: http://vimeo.com/36579366

Edit: Whoops, put a link instead of your quote for the second section.


Disclaimer: I worked on Code.org's Blockly tutorials.

I'm a fan of Bret Victor's work, but this leaves a real bad taste in my mouth.

Frankly, I don't believe that Bret doesn't understand the nature of marketing. He must be aware that http://code.org/quotes is a tool to help influence policy and garner support, rather than a statement on the proposed mechanisms of education.

Code.org has lots of empirical evidence that having celebrities involved inspires kids. Having female role models encourages girls to try. Showing national politicians from both sides of the isle eases local policy progress.

I'm feeling pretty good about my involvement, because I've seen a lot of comments from parents and teachers like this one: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=538314902931484&set=...

and videos like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_t3-3vPp-g&feature=c4-overvi...

I taught Scratch in a Harlem classroom once a week in the months leading up to the Hour Of Code and struggled. Once the Angry Birds & Plants vs Zombies tutorials were ready to beta, I tried it on the class and the results were incredible. Kids that did nothing all semester were suddenly cruising through levels and jumping up and down with excitement. When they went back to Scratch, they suddenly were making dramatically more progress and being creative.

Should also mention, that we've got tons of unplugged activities and lots of other educational materials too. Even more on the way: http://code.org/educate/curriculum

I've lost a lot of respect for Bret Victor just now because he's belittling the work of people who genuinely care and who would love to see his ideas incorporated. There's a much bigger battle to be fought before we can even consider what he's proposing, but he seems willing to work against incremental progress because it's not revolutionary in quite the way he likes.

We've got many types of learning materials at http://code.org/learn from all sorts of providers. My contract with Code.org is over, but if Bret wants to show us how its done, I'm sure the team is willing to share our megaphone.


He's belittling the political stance of code.org as represented by its marketing.

He's not saying "don't teach kids how to program", he's saying "we're teaching kids how to program for the wrong reasons". The implication is, if you're teaching it for the wrong reasons, we're not doing the best we could for the kids.

That's a perfectly valid thing to say, independently of the good intentions and sincere efforts of all the people involved.


If you know anything about politics or marketing, you know that is far too subtle of a stance to communicate to a broad audience. I think that if you dig in to the work Code.org is doing with educators and policy makers, you'll discover they understand the subtleties of both teaching kids to code for the right reasons, as well as leading a movement.


But is it terribly constructive to do it in such a snarky, belittling way? If they're doing good and you think their methods are wrong, I mean, you can say that without being an ass. Though I guess it doesn't matter.


It's getting us talking about it. I'd say that's pretty effective.


That was my impression also. I was taught programming in school in the 80s and it was part of our mathematics class, to do what Papert intended. Many of us went on to have technical careers in architecture (the design teacher went crazy when CAD was available) and science. I don't recall among my peers at the age that booting up a command line and writing some lines of code was a frightening thing at all, and was 100% designed, as a class, to teach us more ways to express ourselves and consider problem solving. Seeing marketing these days as 'learn to code! make money!' is really sad as it misses the point completely - my peers and I are making good money now because we learnt to think with and put to use the tool that is programming.


Where does Bret actually call out code.org as having done anything wrong? It's possible to interpret his comments as applicable entirely towards the public statements displayed. Indeed, he specifically calls out the thought process that is apparent, not the goals of code.org. Note he didn't even say they should be removed, he just lamented what they indicated about national policy.

I don't begrudge companies their successful marketing, but in some cases I get a little depressed at what it can imply about the public.


Couldn't agree more with this.

Effectively, Bret is taking a single page of quotes that are used in a marketing effort in order to frame the conversation in ways that people understand. Zuck's quote, for instance, conceptually maps directly to the open job market for engineers as a perfectly valid reason to learn programming.

It's pretty trite to say, just because Zuck says something about there not being enough engineers to fill the open positions, that he wants you to be a "cog in the wheel". What a horrifically poorly formed argument.

The effort of moving people is one that requires incomplete, idealistic language. That's the ugly truth of marketing. Incomplete doesn't mean dishonest, but it very well may mean "intellectually hollow". And the truth is, the real intellect is in understanding what gets us to where we want to be: a place where we unlock the educational power of learning to program by convincing people to try it.

<reckless> It's like convincing someone to lose weight so they'll look better, when really you're wanting to prevent them from a heart disease. </reckless>


Commenting with hopes of triggering HN's contro-factor ranking penalty (http://www.righto.com/2013/11/how-hacker-news-ranking-really...)


That's just sad.


I quite like Bret Victor and points he has made previously, but this seems entirely aimed at inspiring a flamewar. I'd love to have a discussion around this, but I don't feel that will happen due to the way the message was portrayed.

On that page, he literally takes a paragraph of text from each of the speakers and outputs a single sentence, extreme in interpretation. Code.org isn't just aiming at one person, so they represent multiple points of view. Parents want to know their children will be financially stable, politicians who can influence this at a higher level want to be able to say it will help the nation, and Bill Gates would likely be able to point you to literature showing that introduction to computing concepts at a young age would help understanding of certain topics. Surprise: none of these points can be properly conveyed in one paragraph.

I helped make an online learning tool used by thousands of students[1]. I'm tutoring at a computer science summer camp for high school students right now[2] (and have done so for six years). From all this, I've seen the impact that computer science and programming can have on students when correctly introduced. It is truly amazing. It is fundamentally changing. Even if this isn't applicable for all students, there is still a long and hard push to have this adopted more heavily in education.

That is Code.org's fight.

[1]: https://groklearning.com/ [2]: http://ncss.edu.au/summer_school/index.html


I'll come right out and say it: learning to program will teach you to think better. It gives you another tool with which to interpret and analyze the world, and if applied well that actually can result in better thought.


I think you should amend that from "will" to "could". You could have a terrible teaching, you might not have the will to learn, and you might not learn.


GP said "learning to program", which implies that the person learns.


I think the point is that learning to program is not necessarily equivalent to learning to think better. They may learn to program, and not learn to think better. Which is what this whole thing is about. Should we be telling people "you need to learn to code" to possibly fuel an economic hole, or should we be telling them "We want to teach you a valuable way to think and reason by using programming" which may address future economic and social needs?


"Think better" is a pretty nebulous term but I'm not sure you can learn any new field - especially not one concerning a new manner of problem solving - and not have learnt to "think better".


There are lots of CS students who haven't learnt to "think better". They can type out symbols, and know what those symbols mean individually, but they can't combine them in meaningful ways without lots of prompting.


I cite a host of CS students that I've tutored who have "learned to program" (as in, they know what the symbols mean, and if given prompting can write them), but can't think logically.

They can write code, but not by themselves, or not without it being really messy, convoluted, and not doing what it's supposed to.


This is just odd. I haven't seen any of his other stuff and when I read this I thought he was against teaching kids how to program. From comments in this thread I see why the post is critiquing the reasoning and motives for teaching kids to program. I think that overall I think that his post hurts the movement to teach programming, and doesn't really help to clarify or change the reasons for why programming should be taught in school. Additionally the movement to teach programming before college is making headway (remember whats happening in Chicago?), which is a good thing, and it shouldn't be demonized just because one thinks the motive is bad. Try to influence it positively instead of sending it backwards. Also addressing the "programming isn't for everyone" argument I had to suffer through all the common general studies classes so the argument that programming isn't for everyone is bs, because English and History aren't for me, but I still had to learn it.


Here's something to think about: Should we teach accounting in high school, or math and economics?

What is "coding", or "programming"? Maybe in the context you mentioned, it's computer science. Maybe it's learning how to put together a python script to do some stuff.

When I was getting my degree in CS, there was quite a bit of grousing from the students about how we were being taught very little about how to actually program. You know what? I doubt that was detrimental to too many people.


The point Victor is trying to make is that the assorted leaders are saying "Learn to program because we need people to know how to program". But the more important question is why do we need people to learn how to program. Maybe programming is the best way to achieve those ends for now, but learning programming because someone said you should learn programming falls into the same hole that much of our education system does.

Instead, we need to keep an eye on the real goal, understand why we are doing what we are doing. Maybe programming, as it is now, is it. Some number of years down the line, there will be a better tool for achieving whatever your end goal is, and an individual or societal worship of programming will only blind people from finding that.


It's clear from this post and his post on Khan Acadamy, that Bret Victor is uneasy about the immediacy of the recent "Coding Activism" movement and is probably motivated to write these types of posts because some coders taking part in this movement often cite him as their inspiration. I'm sure he feels compelled to emphasize that the intention put forth in the sum of the work of people like Papert and Douglas Engelbart was not to ultimately fuel the creation of a "cooler IDE".


The frustration and resentment articulated through the comments here towards Bret Victor's post seems to stem from one of two sources:

(a) Bret Victor claiming that code.org is implicitly, via quotes from high-profile figures, supporting a misguided view of computer science education that is overly simplistic and suboptimal towards providing the deeper, more nuanced value that programming can teach.

(b) Bret Victor himself being simplistic and uncharitable in mocking the quotes by these high-profile figures.

I think Bret is correct to point out (a), but the method that he chose to do so lended itself to an acrimonious response by many people who have good intentions, leading to responses towards (b). I myself was initially annoyed by the tone of his post. But after some thought and reflection, I found myself agreeing with the sentiment expressed by this post.

I do think that there is a lot more nuance that could have been communicated when it comes to the value of learning programming. The real debate here, I think, is whether it's reasonable to expect a high-profile figure to comment with such sophistication and nuance, especially within the constraints of a short blurb (which is what I would presume is what their PR person and code.org agreed upon).

Is it justified to expect such a degree of nuance from high-status figures and organizations, given the context that computer science education is currently in?


Wow, this argument is pretty much the opposite of what I would expect from Bret Victor.

1. It doesn't make sense to use the Papert quote as an assumption of truth. (At least add a commentary to why you agree with Papert (since Papert doesn't explain his reasoning in the given excerpt))

2. I thought that almost every programmer thinks that learning to program has improved their ability to think about problems; especially, I imagined Bret would.


Read it again and really spend time thinking about it. You'll see it actually fits perfectly with what he's always believed, and I couldn't agree more. Here it is again:

Programming can serve as a medium in which powerful ideas can be brought within reach. But the focus, of course, must be on the powerful ideas, not the programming itself.


I find a couple of Bret Victor's talk-videos inspiring (mostly due to glimpses of technology that seemingly aren't widely accessible yet).

But I cannot for the life of me figure out what he keeps complaining about.


Sooner or later, even Bret Victor is wrong on the internet.


Programming literacy today is like writing literacy 500 years ago.

You don't need it for every job.

You definitely don't need to be an expert at it for most jobs.

It's just nice when a lot of people can do it moderately well.


I'm not sure how anyone could question Gates, Zuckerberg, or Sandberg on their sincere and informed interest in young people studying computer science. The criticism on that page is so infantile, I can't even think of a proper response.


You didn't understand what he wrote, but that's understandable. The target audience is not you, or sadly, most of HN for that matter. He's clarifying an important point that Seymour Papert made, for people who know who Seymour Papert is (and who don't give a whit who Gates, Zuckerberg, and Sandberg are).


> their sincere and informed interest in young people studying computer science

Cheap labor?


It is bothersome to me that it is (almost?) entirely backed by people that make money from other programmers, not by programming themselves, who are behind this. Where are the computer scientists who make their living by writing code in all this?


Is it fair to equivocate the one or two sentence front-page hooks to the thinking that these people do on a regular basis?

edit: intriguing that ambivalence and I posted almost the same thing simultaneously!


This is so strange to see, especially since code.org's tutorials might be the closest thing we've got to a widely used implementation of (some of) Mr. Victor's ideas.


This whole issue of adding programming / computer science to the curriculum is overstepping and even outright ignoring the problems with our education system. If huge numbers of students graduate from high school without being able to do algebra, what do you think will come of these schools trying to teach kids to program? Imo, this is just the wrong issue to be focusing on. Though it does make for plenty of good PR for the people and companies involved.


So you're saying it's wrong for an independent organization to focus its efforts on a particular topic?

This is a completely invalid argument. Should you be working your day job while there's still hunger in the first world?


Yes, but your analogy is flawed. This is more akin to dumping extra cargo on an overloaded donkey because of its supposed utility.

When education rankings are already so poor, adding another layer to the compulsory curriculum complicates the mess even further.

What's more is that all of the school districts that are rushing to implement this first (like Chicago) all struggle with low results and inefficient, highly bureaucratic teaching. Something tells me that adding coding (while erroneously calling it "computer science" to make it sound grandiose) will only lead to further mediocrity, deterioration and a lot of kids coming out with false and butchered ideas of what programming entails.

It's not that teaching programming is bad, so much as trusting that the compulsory school system will get it right is laughable and a recipe for disaster. This has the potential to go very wrong, or even be ultimately useless if it's just entry-level procedural constructs being repeated ad nauseam.

The camp here appears to be divided between people who highly support it at all costs and people who criticize all aspects. I'm more leaning to the latter camp, quite frankly, but one thing we really should all be focusing on is what the hell will they be actually teaching. I have yet to see a conclusive answer.


Just remember that literacy for the masses was opposed for centuries. Being able to code is the computer equivalent of writing. Writing is 50% of literacy.


I programmed in basic on an old IBM dual-floppy thingamajig in like 1999 or something. We actually didn't program it turns out. I dropped some highschool computer class that turned out to be typing or something. I'm not expecting Chris Bosh to show up in my mailing lists, but of all fights in the universe to pick, taking the time to fling dook at a vast improvement on what I had in middle school? This individual has better things to do.

Let's bring up the whole ineffable thing again. It's like a finger pointing at the moon. The finger can only be a pointer. Whatever truth that is in the moon of programming or thinking in general can't be encapsulated in a pill and injected into the liver. A really big pointer directs a lot of attention in the general direction of the moon. Perhaps some of the tech moguls on the list are being realistic about the payoff unless you schlogg hardcore through a product development and your product goes to the moon.

Give me a break.


Hey, look, propaganda!

First off, I love the liberal summaries/restatement of the advocates of code.org. You have in no way misinterpreted their obviously sinister underlying meanings.

It's also cool that you referenced a quote from the author of Mindstorms, who himself or his work, in no obvious way, influenced the mission of code.org. Because, you know, random unrelated, and out-of-context quotes are awesome. But you should probably go ahead and just redact that whole "I do not mean to dismiss the 'treatment' studies as without value. For many children the opportunity to program a computer is a valuable experience and can foster important intellectual development." part of the text, because I think it may contradict your message here.


"“Computer programmers are in great demand by American businesses, across the tech sector, banking, entertainment, you name it. These are some of the highest-paying jobs, but there are not enough graduates to fill these opportunities.“" Marco Rubio, Senator Florida

Leaving aside the fact that he named exactly 0 jobs and just name-dropped a couple of broad sectors (I guess "job" is a difficult concept to understand by someone who never had one), did it occur to him that if those jobs are the highest-paying (and that's debatable) is because "there are not enough graduates to fill these opportunities"?


"This is the depth of thought that powers nationwide policy decisions."

Yep, because PR blurbs for things always explain the reasoning in detail. That's the depth of thought that powers HN posts...


Privileged rich person says other people don't need to worry about obtaining money or power.

Not an article headline from The Onion.

I nominally agree with him about code.org, just found the surrounding context amusing.


I'm always astonished by the backlash these topics gets in this community. Are we all really so scared by the idea of trying to make coding more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds? Is there some irreparable harm being done to the community and the profession? Even if you think this is another dotcom craze, which I would debate, it looks like we all survived that quite well if we've come back full circle.

I would ask you, how many of you have actually tried to teach kids how to code? How many of you have the experience to back up your assertion that it's simply "too hard" and only a select few should have the privilege? I would imagine a handful and I would be surprised to hear anyone who has had that experience tell me it's been a negative one (if it was I would sincerely love to hear it and find out what issues you had).

For the past six months I've been teaching kids, at the high school level, with little to no background in programming and all of whom Engilsh isn't even their first language (it's an internationally diverse school), web development skills (js/html/css). What I've found, which is pretty much what I expected, was a varying degree of proficiency, some kids have gotten it really quickly and some have needed a lot more help. But overall I've been amazed at their progress and am totally convinced that this is something that needs to happen in more schools at a wider scale.

There are real problems in trying to tackle this problem. I've met actual teachers that have been involved in trying to teach CS curriculum and there is definitely a lack of professional training among them. What they could really use is the tech communities help and support, not their derision and dismissal, it's so easy to view this from a cynical perspective instead of trying to actually get something done. If any of you are actually interested in trying to teach and see for yourselves whether this is worthwhile and you live in the NYC area take a look at ScriptEd (http://scripted.org/). Their focus is specifically in promoting CS in socioeconomic under-represented groups. This is where I volunteer but I know there are a few other organizations you can volunteer at as well, their names escape me at the moment but you can attend the CS NYC meetup to learn more (http://www.meetup.com/CSNYC-Education-Meetup/). If you don't live in the the NYC area not sure of what other resources are out there but I'm sure at least SF has similar initiatives, and probably a few other large metropolitan areas.


> I'm always astonished by the backlash these topics gets in this community. Are we all really so scared by the idea of trying to make coding more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds?

Can't speak for the whole community, but here's my opinion:

The main problem with code.org is that the message they are sending is "programming is something easy that will make you rich and you should do it for patriotic reasons".

I think that's the whole point of the article. I'm all for making programming accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, but we shouldn't lie to them.


I think computer programming can be a much more accessible way to learn problem solving and general thinking skills than other fields. Computers don't need to cost a lot of money these days. So one computer can provide a lab with infinite interactive experiments. Programming gives more feedback than mathematics.


Love the 1984ification of Sheryl Sandberg.


"View Source" shows imaged text duplicated in display:none block; surely for SEO (I don't see how it would be for accessibility; might be wrong). I was under the impression this SEO tactic is either ignored by search engines or penalized...


You would generally want to put that as the title or alt text of the image for it to get indexed correctly without any penalty


"It goes against the grain of modern education to teach students to program. What fun is there to making plans, acquiring discipline, organizing thoughts, devoting attention to detail, and learning to be self critical." -- Alan Perlis


Sheryl Sandberg needs more free female interns!!! But hey, at least she's always willing to go to bat for Larry Summers.


This is just embarassing. The fact that more than 200 people upvoted this even moreso.


Come on. Do you guys have any scientific evidence to support this kind of claim, i.e. learn to code improves your thinking ability in general? Don't treat your conventional assumption as a fact, this is a sign of weakness in your thinking.

Even if the claim is true, how does it compare to other subjects? Say, accounting, does learning accounting also improves thinking ability in general? Does accounting also provide thinking tools can be transferred to general problem solving strategies? How much advantage does coding have? If there is such advantage, does it worth for students from accounting to learn to code? You see, this is not a simple issue.


Programmers think that learning to code makes you a more rounded person. Painters think that learning to paint makes you a more rounded person. Carpenters think that learning carpentry makes you a more rounded person.

If this were one hundred years ago, we'd all be bleating on about how many cars are suddenly popping up, and how all of our children need to become car mechanics (to become rich? to achieve enlightened? to secure our nation's position in emerging world of automation? you decide!).

[Disclaimer: I am a cynical and/or dissatisfied programmer]


[Disclaimer: I am a cynical and/or dissatisfied programmer]

As someone whose thought process seems to have gone in a very similar place here[1], I'm interesting why, if you are up for sharing?

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7045317


Well, I'm dissatisfied for a number of reasons, some that I am still working on figuring out, but the gist of it seems to be that I chose this career path because I knew I was good at it, knew I could get through school as a CS major, and knew I could get a job in it. Pretty much every reason besides "I thought I would enjoy doing it".

Seeing other people push for people to enter the industry for the money and/or jobs, instead of satisfying a passion for the work, has me slightly... annoyed. Annoyed is a good word for it.

(I don't want anybody to worry about me; I am currently working on re-adjusting my work/life balance to rein in on this dissatisfaction.)

As for cynical... I don't buy into a lot of the more "mystic" ideas of coding that many programmers seem to have.

Sure, there is a lot of insight to be had when you study computer science. For example, learning about computability and the Church–Turing–Deutsch principle literally changed my outlook on life; I would not be the same person that I am today if I had not studied computer science...

...but I do not think that computer science is in any way special in this regard. My non-CS peers in university grew in their own personal ways as well. They didn't miss out on anything that I had any more than I missed out on things that they had.

That I think, is what many programmers don't understand. They lack exposure to other perspectives, and therefore mistake their own path through life as the obviously correct or superior path.


Pretty much every reason besides "I thought I would enjoy doing it".

That's a shame. I think I've been lucky enough to move between different focuses (between sysadmin and programming multiple times) enough that I never got too bored or dissatisfied with any one.

Seeing other people push for people to enter the industry for the money and/or jobs, instead of satisfying a passion for the work, has me slightly... annoyed. Annoyed is a good word for it.

I can relate. I remember while in college circa 2002 thinking that the number of CS students was artificially inflated by people who made decisions during the dot-com boom. People that had no real aptitude for the subject, had no passion for the subject, or both. I understand that's going to happen in any major, but when it felt like upwards of 60% of my peers weren't interested, and I couldn't help feeling they would have been better served by studying something they actually cared for.

...but I do not think that computer science is in any way special in this regard. My non-CS peers in university grew in their own personal ways as well. They didn't miss out on anything that I had any more than I missed out on things that they had.

I'm routinely disappointed I haven't found more time to apply towards other disciplines or areas of study (this isn't new, I used to want to go back for a second major someday. I no longer necessarily view that as the best route for further advancement though), especially in reading comments here from some people that truly have some deep experience in different areas.

That I think, is what many programmers don't understand. They lack exposure to other perspectives, and therefore mistake their own path through life as the obviously correct or superior path.

I think that's correct, but I also think it's a matter of people incorrectly attributing value to programming based on positive outcomes they've experienced after learning to program. Learning to read doesn't make me smarter, per se, but it is a very useful tool in allowing me to learn and explore certain ideas. I think programming is similar (although on a lesser scale). It's a good tool for examining certain types of ideas which may provide great benefit, but it's not a causal relationship.


> If this were one hundred years ago, we'd all be bleating on about how many cars are suddenly popping up, and how all of our children need to become car mechanics

Car mechanics? No. Mechanical and electrical engineers...definitely.


No, car mechanics.

The one that seems easily obtainable.

Right now we are pushing for programmers. Not electrical engineers, not physicists. We aren't pushing people to go into materials tech or telecom. Not even industrial design. All of those things are jam-packed into the consumer devices that are now surrounding us and fueling this craze... but programmer is the one that has been picked. Programmer is the one that the proponents of this movement think can be picked up without years of intensive schooling.

Coding is the obtainable saviour vocation for the unwashed masses.


Sys admins are to programmers what auto mechanics are to mechanical engineers. We are pushing people into engineering as much as CSE. At my old school, the CS program is so over subscribed that this happens naturally.

Industrial design is incredibly oversubscribed and always has been (the sexiest design major), if you want to do design these days, interaction is a better bet.

Of course, a programmer is just as likely to have a physics, math, engineering, or even music degree as they are a computer science one.


> Do you guys have any scientific evidence to support this kind of claim, i.e. learn to code improves your thinking ability in general?

If you're actually interested in this, Papert's book Mindstorms, which is cited in the post, lists many reasons why this might be the case. The most obvious are that computers interpret everything literally, so when you express your ideas you're forced to do so in a way that totally lacks ambiguity.

He also talks about how in a classroom setting, students are usually trained to react to "wrong answers" by wincing, moving on, and forgetting it happened, whereas in programming it's obvious that no one ever gets things right on the first try--debugging is necessary for programming, and debugging teaches students to think in terms of "how can this be improved" rather than the right/wrong of traditional schoolwork.

There's tons more in the book, but most of it can be summed up in that programming teaches meta-cognition and forces you to consider questions of epistemology.


Those are plausible reasons/theories for the claim, but not scientific evidence. In social science, it is not uncommon that plausible assumptions fail to obtain direct support from data.


This piece is too easy to misinterpret when used as a direct link and not accessed through Victor's website. Knowing that it is him, I interpret the message in a wholly different way than when I first visited the site and didn't know what worrydream.com is and who it belonged to.

He should have made it more fleshed out and his intent more explicit for that reason.




Applications are open for YC Winter 2018

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: