kids + heirarchical directories

Carlos Nazareno object404 at
Sun May 22 19:29:28 EDT 2011

> Preschoolers, I said. Where would you have preliterate preschoolers start?

Sorry, didn't catch that part :) Preschoolers are a bit more difficult
 to teach with this manner :) Sorry, I might be talking about
something else, just mostly the concept of [heirarchical files,
directories and links], not how the system actually writes to storage
+ binary data.

Well, anyway, here's one way to work with it...

Before the "mac/windows" GUI paradigm came along, all of us were
working with the command line (and still are).

Here's the interesting thing: command lines share a very high
similarity with text adventures like the games made by infocom (Zork,
etc), so this might be one effective way to get kids to start thinking
 of the filesystems:

Describe directories as virtual rooms where kids can navigate around,
and files as the contents of the "rooms". Kids have a natural tendency
 to explore, and this might be a more natural way to describe the

You can then describe the filesystem heirarchy as a house or building
with different floors and entrances/exits to different rooms. When the
filesystem is mapped to a GUI like Gnome/KDE/Mac/Windows, you can then
show them how to navigate around the "rooms" (directories) and look at
the objects inside the rooms.

It will be a little like "Myst" adventure games where you navigate
from room to room with buttons, except the kids need to use their
imagination more.

If you can get kids to visualize this in their minds, it could be a
good way to get it to stick.

When you get to first to third graders, it becomes a little simpler.

Another (horror?) story (sorry about the one with 6 year old
streetkids playing violent video games), my neighbor's kid and her
friends are on facebook (mostly playing facebook games) and they're
thereabouts in that third-grader age demographic.

If these kids can navigate websites, then they can navigate filesystems.

> What is the reinforcement for third-graders to learn a file system when
> XOs provide the Journal?

Well, the journal's not a very good place to learn filesystems. The
dual boot to Gnome is though.

> Who in
> the preschool to third grade age group wants to know badly enough, and
> why?

Preschool would be a bit difficult, but age 7+ will do. When they
start creating files, they can be taught how to make folders so that
they can organize their files. The journal can get pretty messy when
you reach logs in the hundreds.

> A single folder is simple. The entire Windows or Linux file system is
> insanely complex. For one thing, essential system files have different
> names and locations in every version of Windows, and in many Linux
> distros, and sometimes in successive versions of the same distro.
> Here is a simple exercise for you. You are to imagine that you are helping
> an amazing third-grader understand how the filesystem relates to Sugar
> activity development, packaging, QA, and deployment, since it is all so
> simple to you.

Well, this is a different story altogether. Tinkering with the engine
"under the hood" + Sugar dev is a little bit scarier and might be
beyond the average third-grader. Even some would adults have
difficulty with this. :)

For simple stuff like creating notes with a text editors & making
drawings with image-editing apps, they should be good with that.
(teach them directories to make their workspace tidy from all the

carlos nazareno
core team member
phlashers: philippine flash actionscripters
poverty is violence

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