Discussion with Alan Kay about Visual Programming | Don Hopkins

| March 4, 2013

So it seems to me that there is a lot of room for new and different ideas for children’s environments for learning powerful ideas. They have to be above threshold and in the spirit of real science and mathematics. Two cautionary examples are Interactive Physics and SimCity.The first assumes that Newton was absolutely right and is a direct embodiment of Newtonian Dynamics and Cosmology. The users are restricted to paramerizing the internal dynamic models and cannot see them, question them, or change them. For example, it is really important to be able to try an inverse cube law for gravity, etc.. This is most assuredly not in the spirit of science! It amounts to a dynamic bible. In order for this to be useful in real education, there has to be a lead up that derives the relationships in an empirical and mathematical form, and only then will the premises of IP be useful.SimCity is similar but more pernicious. It is a black box of “soft somewhat arbitrary knowledge” that the children can’t look at, question or change. For example, SC gets the players to discover that the way to counter rising crime is to put in more police stations. Most anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and economists would disagree violently. Alternate assumptions can’t be tried, etc.Both of these packages have won many “educational awards” from the pop culture, but in many ways they are anti-real-education because they miss what modern knowledge and thinking and epistemology are all about. This is why being “above threshold” and really understanding what this means is the deep key to making modern curricula and computer environments that will really help children lift themselves.

via Discussion with Alan Kay about Visual Programming | Don Hopkins.