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Archive for the ‘kids’ Category

Wow – Overwhelmed

Posted by middlerage on August 29, 2014

I have now finished my very first week ever as a teacher.

Words fail. There is so much to say and yet I have no idea what to say. I have seen the elephant.

I promise I am not trying to be exclusionary. I am not trying to be: “You can never understand.” But I just don’t know how to translate the visceral experience of working with “challenging” kids into prose.

I am defeated.

I am overwhelmed.

I am self questioning.

I am astonished. Saddened. Exhilarated. Committed. Exhausted. Drowning. Confounded. Confused. Disrespected. Happy and Angry. Disgusted and moved. Full of hate but full of caring. Unprepared yet improvising as best as I can.

Posted in kids, observations, wtf | 8 Comments »

An Anecdote, From the Male Perspective…

Posted by middlerage on June 21, 2014

…of Women Rocking

Of course it should be a given that women rock. But then there’s the fact that, without any input from me or my wife, my kids are already learning that women need rescuing, are weak, and pink is a lousy, girly color. Thank you TV, Disney, and society in general.

Anyway, this past week I was an adult volunteer for a Cub Scout summer camp (ahhh unemployment… so much free time). So here’s this program devoted to boys – activating their minds and bodies, piling on super fun activities, and spritzing with plenty of playtime. Mix in chocolaty chunks of BB guns, archery, and knot tying. Viola! better boys.

And who was responsible for all this? Plenty o’ men helped, but it was the Camp Director (a woman), the Program Director (a woman), half of the den leaders (women), and various and assorted Girl Scout volunteers, who all made the whole thing rock.

You might say there was selfish element involved, but the two directors are not mothers of Cub Scouts, and the Girl Scouts are definitely not mothers yet.

I mean, insert long, profound dissertation here, but I think the anecdote speaks for itself. Women quietly doing what they always do to make the world a better place.

’nuff said

Posted in kids, observations | 1 Comment »

A Computer Question/Request

Posted by middlerage on June 11, 2014

Dear readers, do any of you have an opinion on the best way to start kids programming computers? I am thinking an argument could be made that this  should be part of the “new” literacy. But the question is what kind of programming exactly? I am attracted to the step-by-step process of, say, writing Fortran (or C, or COBOL, or insert-traditional-language-here). This could lead to algorithmic thinking and breaking up a problem into solvable pieces. Good skills to teach and have.

428px-Scratch_Logo.svgBut then there is also the idea that with young kids you might want something more visual – like a building blocks or lego style of visual programming (to do what? – I dunno). I’ve never tangled with “visual Basic” and I’m not sure if it is even still around, or if VB is even what I am thinking of. My kids love love love Minecraft (which if you haven’t heard, is the video game taking over the world), and Minecraft is kind of a glorified Legos (not really, but a suitable analogy escapes me).  With monsters. But there is the visual and building process, the sandbox* aspect, that is hands-on and so appealing to children. Inspired by Minecraft, I went searching for a sandbox-ish, child oriented programming platform and came upon MIT’s effort called Scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu/  It seems to fit the bill, but so far my kids have been ‘meh’ and it is not tearing them away from Minecraft. Might be an age thing, but I’m also not sure it is teaching “doing something useful with computers” that I want from a programming language.

Another thought is to go vocational and dispense with problem solving languages like Fortran, and visual gamey stuff like Scratch, and instead focus on something a kid could use right away like web page building. Would it be smarter to teach kids HTML, and CSS and PHP and maybe Perl? Java? Javascript?

Please tell me what you think. And feel free to discuss it holistically, like appropriate age, cultural considerations, etc.

* here I mean sandbox in the original definition, as in a place for children to play. Not in the new world order, IT definition of a place to test your wiki programming skills. Which is ironic since I am discussing programming skills, but anyhoo…
P.S. You’ll note I do not use FORTRAN, but rather Fortran. I had the pleasure, once, of taking a Fortran course from one of the originators and he explained that there was never any push to make the official spelling all caps, and that it is sort of a bizarre, historical mod. Interestingly, my spellchecker hates Fortran but not FORTRAN.

Posted in kids | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

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