View Source question

Edward Cherlin echerlin at
Mon May 19 15:47:04 EDT 2008

On Mon, May 19, 2008 at 3:59 AM, Walter Bender <walter.bender at> wrote:

>> So, what do field experiments with kids reveal about "View Source"?
> There are no such experiments to date that I am aware of,

Although we have no experiments on this View Source button, there is
plenty of literature on the value of other ways to view source code,
particularly in Smalltalk. I can also cite studies and books on the
use of LISP/Scheme, Logo, and APL in elementary school.

The general plan with the use of conventional text programming is that
children can be introduced to games on the computer even before first
grade, and then, probably in third grade, can be given a look inside
specific pieces of code where they can change something simple, such
as the value of a variable, and look at the results when they run the
code again. Step by step as they are ready, teachers can show them how
to make more complex modifications to program logic, and then
structure. By sixth greade. they are writing simple programs of their

However, we have also seen tile-based programming systems used at an
even earlier age, because they eliminate the need for accurate typing.
I have heard that icon-based tiles can be used to teach programming
logic to preschoolers. View source in this context is quite different
from the text programming context.

Also, View Source should not be the only tool we offer. Why not a
PyDoc button? Why not any of the other tools for understanding
programs, APIs, and the rest?

Somebody said that program source should be displayed in Write. I
agree with that only if Write is the text editor for the complete
Python IDE, with full integration, so that the functions on the tabs
are augmented in code mode with appropriate tools.

> but there is
> some anecdotal evidence, such as the children in Galadima creating
> their own Igbo spelling dictionary. They didn't need to modify the
> source code, but they--I believe--looked at how he English spelling
> dictionary was structured and mimicked it. It was a real moment of
> empowerment.

Somebody should document it. As in filming interviews, and producing
both a documentary and a written history and analysis. Also the XO
hospital, the Nepal teacher training, the Peru teacher
training...Something along the lines of the PBS documentary miniseries
Rx for Survival, which had Brad Pitt narrating.

Who has contacts at PBS or National Geographic or anywhere else suitable?

> -walter
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Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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