I’m all fired up after two days of the most amazing work bringing together some very remarkable people to talk about a TSF strategy to ensure that we can give the next generation excellent analytical skills despite the global collapse in the supply of maths teaching capacity.

The headliners were:

Alan Kay of the Squeak project and Squeakland educational software platform,
Guido van Rossum of Python fame,
James Dalziel of the LAMS project, IMO the “next big thing” in the e-education space,
Zelda Holtzman, CEO of the Shuttleworth Foundation

There were about 15 of us, covering several programming environments (scheme, smalltalk/squeak, python, logo) and a variety of educational frameworks (UK, South Africa, participants from France, Switzerland, Netherlands, USA…). The idea was to bring together people who potentially have the ability to shape up a framework that can take off like wildfire. The risk was that, with so many strong opinions from different backgrounds, we would not be able to make progress.

Suffice it to say that after two days in the bunker, I think we did brilliantly! I saw real bridges being built between Alan and Guido, two great men who’s collaboration might give us the tools to teach logic from the earliest days of education (think of 5 year-olds writing code visually) through to high level instruction (we all know how effective Python is for university type problems, right?). Instead of fighting over turf or syntax, I sensed a genuine willingness to synthesize the best work from both camps into something that could have both Python’s pop-culture widespread appeal, and pedagogical foundations that build on years of Alan’s experience in the Squeak world. The mouse might yet become the snake’s strongest ally.

We also heard from people who help to shape educatonal policy in the UK, South Africa and elsewhere, and I was even more convinced that the problems we want to solve through this initiative are universal, even though the crisis is most evident in countries like South Africa. So I hope we can mobilise a global response, and if you have access to global agencies interested in education then please put them in touch with Helen King, who coordinates the international work of TSF.

What’s this all about? The big picture is that I believe we should be building an analytical skills curriculum that is post-mathematical. Mathematics is a beautiful but abstract art, that has traditionall been the vehicle for the development of analytical capacity in young minds, but has equally traditionally been seen as dry and difficult. We need to teach mathematics NOT because people should become mathematicians (I could not pass my first year maths exam tomorrow though I did reasonably well at the time) but rather people we want society in general to have the ability to apply known tools and patterns to solve the problems it encounters. That’s what learning maths gives us during our formative years.

So what could replace traditional mathematics instruction? Why, software engineering – but not the way it is taught today. We don’t want to produce a society of software engineers any more than we used to want to produce a society of mathematicians. We want to produce a society that knows how to:

  1. Learn a set of tools quickly and efficiently. In life, the set of tools we apply to the problems we face changes every few years. So it’s not the specific SET of tools you learn, its the ability to grok a new toolset, figure out when to use, and do so efficiently that counts.
  2. Break problems into simpler pieces, solve them using familiar tools. The whole process of analysis is about taking a big hairy problem that is new and unfamiliar, and teasing it into pieces that look solvable based on tools that you already know.
  3. Put those simpler answers back together to make an answer to the big problem. This is the synthesis part – taking the results of your analysis and making them meaningful in the real world.

Anyway, the traditional way to teach these life skills has been to drill kids in mathematics. That was always quite a tough sell. Nowadays, its a tough sell in the face of even tougher competition for learner mental bandwidth from cell phones, MTV, instant messaging and the myriad other bling-bling commercials desperate to get your attention when you are 12 and about to get your first credit card. So we need something that is sexy, exciting, challenging, and interesting. I’m pretty convinced that basic technology is becoming pervasive, so by the time our R&D here bears fruit it’s reasonable to expect that most kids even in developing countries have access to technology, whether that looks like a $100 laptop or a TuxLab (another awesome TSF project). And kids LOVE technology. They love the games, they love the puzzles, they love figuring out how to make those darn machines do what they want. This initiative, then, is about figuring out how to build a curriculum that will produce generations that can do the 1, 2, 3 above NOT because they learned mathematics, but because they explored the world of technology.

You can read more about this specific project on the TSF wiki.

21 comments:

  1. the open » Blog Archive » More on “Suñubuntu” says: (permalink)
    April 18th, 2006 at 5:27 pm

    [...] I was reading today in Mark Shuttleworth’s blog about a workshop the Shuttleworth Foundation had to discuss developing some interesting educational programs to teach math through computer programming. He is actively funding open-source initiatives to write software that caters to South Africa’s state curriculum, and I imagine the same software could be modified for use in other countries. His tuXlabs program has opened over 150 educational computer labs with a thin-client setup similar to what I am proposing. [...]

  2. Jonathan Carter says: (permalink)
    April 18th, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    Nice write-up, Mark! Although I must insist that you spell tuXlab correctly (lower case “t”, capital “X”).

    Thanks for funding this. Having been through the school process recently, and understanding how mind-numbing boring ‘the system’ has made the education system, I’m delighted that someone is taking bold steps to make such a big change in education. Perhaps one day when I have children, they wouldn’t have to go through the crap system I went through.

    A sincere thanks!
    Jonathan

  3. Ciaran says: (permalink)
    April 18th, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    May I commend you on all your attempts to make education accessible to all. Education should not be a barrier and helps lift people above a meagre existance.

    Please keep up the good work all over the world. I hope more millionaires learn from your philenthropic example and mean they themselves begin to see the world as a place that involves more than their wallet.

  4. francois says: (permalink)
    April 19th, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    [ “I saw real bridges being built between Alan and Guido, two great men who’s collaboration might give us the tools (...) Instead of fighting over turf or syntax, I sensed a genuine willingness to synthesize the best work from both camps into something that could have both Python’s pop-culture widespread appeal, and pedagogical foundations that build on years of Alan’s experience in the Squeak world. The mouse might yet become the snake’s strongest ally.”]

    I really hope this will be the case and that you can ‘catalyse’ it.
    I’m using both Python and Squeak for an educational project (www.liberlab.net) precisely because of their complementarity : Python for ‘normal’ pythonic apps and Squeak for the power of the all-objects visual interface.

    I believe ‘~ merging’ « the best of both worlds » (Python/Squeak for education) would bring kids/students above warp 9 :)

    For now, the FAQ of the Croquet project (written in Squeak) says it should be possible later to program Croquet in Python, I hope this will be the case too (release of Croquet 1.0 seems imminent).
    http://www.opencroquet.org

    Another interesting project written in Squeak is « Scratch » from the MIT. I find the Lego/Logo mix really powerful (and easier for kids to use than the E-Toys from Squeak).
    http://llk.media.mit.edu/projects/summaries/scratch.shtml

    [“They love the games, they love the puzzles, they love figuring out how to make those darn machines do what they want. This initiative, then, is about figuring out how to build a curriculum that will produce generations that can do the 1, 2, 3 above NOT because they learned mathematics, but because they explored the world of technology. “]

    I couldn’t agreed more. When I was a kid I finally succeeded in the French educational system despite it and thanks to cheap « hard-fun » « tools to think with » designed by British men (ZX81 and CPC464 were the name of my real teachers…. strange world).

    I also think that only few kids like math for the beauty its abstraction but using/learning math to design a game, make digital/interactive art, measure/analyse an experiment through the computer, etc… is far more attractive.

    I really hope your curriculum project will be a success and will inspire other national education systems.

  5. Dinda says: (permalink)
    April 19th, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    Great to see this kicking up into a meaningful start to change the world! However, I am curious to try to understand why the “post-mathematics” curriculum emphasis. I know those skills are a foundation but I’m not sure that is the only path that should be of value. Granted it makes business sense, we need future tech workers, but we need a variety of skills in addition to programmers. Okay, I know I’m showing my bias coming from a more liberal arts background then moving into instructional design and curriculum development but it seems more and more of my job is translating geek speak into human usable words. I understand enough of programming to see why something was done the way it was, but also recognize the human factors component and see why so many software offerings are so difficult to use. There has to be a balance. My own journey into learning Ubuntu has made that ever more clear.

    So how to change the world of education? The greater challenge lies here; politically and socially. I think many in the home school movement are heading in this direction. It’s no longer a world of “kill-n-drill” but now the whole world and beyond is your classroom. Grappling the whole world into a meaningful curriculum – now there’s a fun challenge!

    Brainstorming out loud here. . .media, specifically a movie or video. How do you influence a generation? Take a page from Disney/Star Trek et al and create a film/book/media that makes people dream. How often do we see Science Fiction and that starts the dream to make it our reality? What influenced you to travel to space? What will influence the next generation? You wrote somewhere, some time ago, about producing a movie – why not show the vision of what could be. . . and someday, some kid will make it happen.

  6. Paul Fernhout says: (permalink)
    April 22nd, 2006 at 1:46 am

    Excerpts from an emails I wrote in another context, looking at the limitations of compulsary schooling to accomplish the goals Mark outlines, even schooling informed by constructivist thinking.

    ===============

    Some of Mark’s own phrases from:
    http://wiki.tsf.org.za/shuttleworthfoundationwiki/Day_20one
    as an indicator of what he is thinking about (taken out of context which would show he is open minded, true, but look at how many there are):
    “primary and secondary education”
    “to become a mathematics teacher”
    “Technology in classrooms”
    “supply technology in schools”
    “Aim: to produce a curriculum”
    “train teachers”
    “Institutionalize … exceptional children”
    “correct portfolio of schools to implement the curriculum”

    And some phrases of Mark’s from the second day:
    http://wiki.tsf.org.za/shuttleworthfoundationwiki/Day_20two
    “used in schools ”
    “In their classroom work”
    “The child has to solve the problem”
    “Did he come to the right answer”
    “identify children who have the answers”
    “How do you deal with kids who work out their own ”
    “the sort of skills the teachers should be taught”
    “With the curriculum”
    “If spent more time planning”
    “do all the curriculum training”
    “have a curriculum”
    Several are about control here — planning and telling kids what to do.

    Granted, other people, specifically Alan Kay, made constructivist educational points (though even he still speaks from a somewhat school-oriented context), and Mark responded positively towards them. I clearly think Mark is looking for more ideas, and hence his summit. I acknowledge Mark’s flexibility and potential to change; he’s one of the few people (dozens?) who has looked at the Earth from space with his own eyes, and an ever rarer few (two? three?) who did it with their own money.

    Still, I think my point remains, that, acknowledging he had the Summit to look for new ideas, that a “mass schooling == education” equality was, and is still, the source of light illuminating how he is looking at things. And it was the “elephant in the living room” no one talked about (though see below). At best there seems to have been some discussion of how in one broad area of schooling (math & science) there might be a little constructivist approach used here and there in a few grades part of the time. But in reality, any conventional *compulsary* school
    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/5i.htm
    based approach built on a *compulsary* curriculum will undermine the very notion of what he hopes for in wanting to help preparing kids for the future — a one likely involving a lot of freewheeling free and open source volunteer community participation. Even forcing kids to help each other learn fixed materials undermines part of that message. Those sorts of truly collaborative skills stem out of self-motivation, not compulsion, and they will only grow ever more important as our society adopts more and more productive technologies worldwide, moving to a world transcending even the notion of “work” itself.
    http://www.whywork.org/

    There was one section where the elephant was apparently mentioned, when the notion of radical changes was brought up and then dismissed on the second day: “HK2: Extreme crisis- complete overhaul would mean a higher impact … VR: Although complete overhaul would be ideal- it would be counterproductive given the realities of South Africa.”

    Time and time again that same conversation comes up the same way, with the same result. So we are left with a focus on: Curriculum, Curriculum, Curriculum — that is a recurrent them in Mark’s phrasing.

    Some comments by an unschooling advocate on the notion of a curriculum:
    http://www.naturalchild.com/guest/earl_stevens.html
    “Allowing curriculums, textbooks, and tests to be the defining, driving force behind the education of a child is a hindrance in the home as much as in the school – not only because it interferes with learning, but because it interferes with trust. As I have mentioned, even educators are beginning to question the pre-planned, year-long curriculum as an out-dated, 19th century educational system. There is no reason that families should be less flexible and innovative than schools.”
    Or see links at:
    “Unschooling — Delight-driven learning”
    http://home-educate.com/unschooling/

    As New York State “Teacher of the Year” John Taylor Gatto puts it here in his essay, on what the real curriculum is in almost any schooling context:
    “The 7-Lesson Schoolteacher”
    http://www.newciv.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt
    “It is time that we faced the fact squarely that institutional
    schoolteaching is destructive to children. …
    After an adult lifetime spent teaching school I believe the method
    of mass-schooling is the only real content it has, don’t be fooled into
    thinking that good curriculum or good equipment or good teachers are the
    critical determinants of your son and daughter’s schooltime. All the
    pathologies we’ve considered come about in large measure because the
    lessons of school prevent children from keeping important appointments
    with themselves and with their families, to learn lessons in self-
    motivation, perseverance, self-reliance, courage, dignity and love and
    lessons in service to others, which are among the key lessons of home
    life. Thirty years ago these things could still be learned in the time
    left after school. But television has eaten up most of that time, and a
    combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two-income or
    single-parent families have swallowed up most of what used to be family
    time. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human, and only thin-
    soil wastelands to do it in. A future is rushing down upon our culture
    which will insist that all of us learn the wisdom of non-material
    experience; a future which will demand as the price of survival that we
    follow a pace of natural life economical in material cost. These
    lessons cannot be learned in schools as they are. School is like
    starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the
    only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.”

    For one alternative:
    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/3d.htm
    “I know a school for kids ages three to eighteen that doesn’t teach anybody to read, yet everyone who goes there learns to do it, most very well. It’s the beautiful Sudbury Valley School, twenty miles west of Boston in the old Nathaniel Bowditch “cottage” (which looks suspiciously like a mansion), a place ringed by handsome outbuildings, a private lake, woods, and acres of magnificent grounds. Sudbury is a private school, but with a tuition under $4,000 a year it’s considerably cheaper than a seat in a New York City public school. At Sudbury kids teach themselves to read; they learn at many different ages, even into the teen years (though that’s rare). When each kid is ready he or she self-instructs, if such a formal label isn’t inappropriate for such a natural undertaking. During this time they are free to request as much adult assistance as needed. That usually isn’t much. In thirty years of operation, Sudbury has never had a single kid who didn’t learn to read. All this is aided by a magnificent school library on open shelves where books are borrowed and returned on the honor system. About 65 percent of Sudbury kids go on to good colleges. The place has never seen a case of dyslexia. (That’s not to say some kids don’t reverse letters and such from time to time, but such conditions are temporary and self-correcting unless institutionalized into a disease.) So Sudbury doesn’t even teach reading yet all its kids learn to read and even like reading. What could be going on there that we don’t understand?”

    So why build software tools oriented towards schools and a compulsory “curriculum” if the real goal is helping kids educate themselves and become productive citizens of the 21st century? Yes, schools could be made a bit less terrible, but why spend rare philanthropic dollars for such a meager outcome? Someone like Mark Shuttleworth has so much potential as an agent of positive change, but it seems like, despite the fact that his effort will do some small good for some school kids, it is mostly a non-starter as far as significant change. Of course, this is to be expected. As Gatto points out in his book:
    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc5.htm
    “Chapter Seventeen — The Politics Of Schooling — At the heart of the durability of mass schooling is a brilliantly designed power fragmentation system which distributes decision-making so widely among so many warring interests that large-scale change is impossible without a guidebook. Few insiders understand how to steer this ship and the few who do may have lost the will to control it.”
    That is the elephant in the educational living room in all its glory.

    [snip] I have no problems with people writing good tutorials, or people figuring out useful educational widgets to make, or people helping other people who spend time around kids learn how to interact productively with them, or people thinking about what types of things are useful to learn and laying out interesting paths for kids to follow at their own choosing. The best part of our garden simulator is perhaps the help system my wife spent six months writing, which is a resource for many thousands of people on the web now. If one looks at writing curricula in that sense, then such aids can be useful. But add compulsion to any of those notions (even our garden simulator!), and you get back to the problem we have today with mass compulsory schooling. It undermines [the work of a curricula writer], by turning [such] labors of love on curricula into instruments of torture (boredom is in a sense a form of torture) wielded by “teachers” who (often unknowingly) teach mainly the seven real lessons of schooling Gatto outlines instead.

    And you don’t get someone like Bucky Fuller through conventional compulsory schooling, and we certainly need more people like him in the 21st century. From:
    http://www.madrone.com/Home-ed/hs35.htm
    “Almost no one who has changed our world, has reached his or her new knowledge through [learning that results because you are forced]. … To me, one of the most striking examples of this is Buckminster Fuller. Until he got glasses in elementary school, he was essentially blind. He developed his ideas about shape and structure playing with dried peas in kindergarten.” So in that sense, Bucky’s poor physical vision protected him from the compulsory school curriculum that might have ruined his true inner vision.

    Science education in compulsory schools is essentially a machine grinding out diamonds (PhDs). It is also a failing pyramid scheme, since it produces more specialists then the world needs, each of which wants to turn out many more of the same specialist. In the words of the Vice Provost of Caltech, Dr. David L. Goodstein:
    http://www.house.gov/science/goodstein_04-01.htm
    “Science education in America is a mining and sorting operation in which we seek out diamonds in the rough that can be cut and polished into gems just like us, the existing scientists, and we discard all the rest. This system has produced the best scientists in the world, but it is also responsible for the woeful technical illiteracy of the American workforce. Furthermore, now that the period of exponential growth is over we find ourselves with a surplus of gems that we can’t afford. That is why the Internet crackles with the complaints of young Ph.D.’s who can’t get jobs doing the research they were trained for.”

    Mark sets out to do good; my worry is how many Bucky Fullers the curriculum he plans is about to grind to ruin. Still, his may ruin less of them then some other worse curricula, but is that the best we can hope for, to save just a few children from the griding gears of a compulsory schooling machine? Even in the face of impossible odds against worldwide compulsory school machinery costing trillions of dollars a year to operate to keep grinding down most children into dirt (cue Pink Floyd :-),
    http://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/pink-floyd/108776.html [*]
    or as Gatto puts it: “Bianca, You Animal, Shut Up!”
    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/prologue.htm
    even then, shouldn’t we desperately hope for something more? And shouldn’t that desperate hope inform our vision of what truly educational software [snip] should be all about?

    –Paul Fernhout
    [*] Too bad Pink Floyd didn’t use the word “schooling” instead of “education” in “Another Brick in The Wall”. In that sense, even they succumbed unwittingly to the evil they try to fight.

  7. Winston Wolff says: (permalink)
    April 25th, 2006 at 6:27 am

    Dinda said:

    “So how to change the world of education? The greater challenge lies here; politically and socially.”

    I couldn’t agree more. The problem we are trying so solve is not a technical problem, it’s a people problem: students, their peers, teachers, parents, principals, school boards.

    Mr. Shuttleworth is talking about building technical solutions, but the only software that will help will be be a tool to assist a human process. By that I mean help one of these people do their thing better. Maybe a tool to help a student experiment more easily with logic or problem solving. Similarly a tool that helps a student get peer-reviews which inspires him to pursue his interest and refine it to an art form. Or a tool that helps a parent see where their child is thriving and stumbling so they can praise or help. For example Word Processors or Photoshop helps people do a job they can do without computers, but the computer makes it easier, faster, more fun, and with better results.

    The areas where software can help are numerous, and I’m working on this problem too. I teach video game programming to kids in New York City. I am trying to build and offering my tools such as MakeBot ( http://stratolab.com/misc/makebot/ ). With more resources we can do wonders, but I hope we don’t waste them. We must remember that the core of the problem is the people involved, not the technogy we (software engineers) like to use.

  8. Aretao 3-D » Mark Shuttleworth and LAMS says: (permalink)
    April 25th, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    [...] “I’m working with Mark on two projects – the first is getting LAMS into Edubuntu (an education focussed distribution of Ubuntu). Second, Mark and the team at the Shuttleworth Foundation are developing a major project to rethink school education about analysis and problem solving skills using computers as a driver – and we’re exploring how LAMS could help this initiative. For more details, see http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/26.” [...]

  9. Dean Shankle says: (permalink)
    April 29th, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    Mark, when I was growing up it wasn’t so much about drilling kids in mathematics (at least in my school) but showing them that mathematics was the language of the world: the leaves on the trees, the movements of the heavenly bodies, music and even the very atoms that are the building blocks of everything are based on mathematical principles.

    I agree that the tools we have to unlock the beauty of this pervasive mathematical structure have improved and can, and should, be used to bring to life the inherent structure of our world. I look forward to seeing how your project develops.

  10. Marc says: (permalink)
    April 30th, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    Squeak is intriguing but weird for a Unix fan like myself. I’ve yet to find a really good Squeak tutorial for an experienced programmer. Know of a good one? Please email me if you do.

  11. Robyn Davies says: (permalink)
    May 6th, 2006 at 10:31 am

    I was at the summit meeting in London and I feel that believe that Paul Fernhout didn’t really understand what was meant when the word ‘curriculum’ was used in our discussions.

    The word ‘curriculum’ sounds like an imposed system but right throughout the discussions we were reminded that this ‘curriculum’ must not be imposed but rather inspired. To me the general idea was to create software/workbooks that will encourage teachers to explore the idea of teaching analytical skills with the use of a programming language. It certainly couldn’t be imposed in a country like South Africa at present anyway as comparitively few schools have a computer lab and many schools don’t even have electricity. It seemed to me that we were looking at a new and innovative way of teaching our children to solve problems.

    Because they are growing up in a technological age, it would seem natural to use technology as a tool to learning. The word ‘viral’ was used often in the discussions, which I took to mean that the ‘curriculum’ would be open-ended and would be developed to ‘inspire’ rather than ‘restrict’ children and teachers. To my way of thinking, this ‘curriculum’ would be used to inspire the use of programming to enhance learning (particularly in problem solving skills) and also to inspire schools in South Africa to ‘get on board’ and demand that their schools have computer labs so that they can start using these ideas to help develop their pupils to their full potential. The aim was to develop children not to ‘bind’ them into a hard and fast way of learning.

    I use Logo to teach children from the age of 6 and run three Logo Clubs at my school. I find that there is no way that I can restrict children from developing at their own rate. They have wonderful ideas and it would be a great pity to use a hard and fixed ‘curriculum’. They love to experiment and discover for themselves and the ‘curriculum’ or ‘guidelines’ should take this into account.

    This ‘curriculum’ could be used by teachers and parents and is certainly not restricted to schools. I have taught my own grandchildren Logo programming at home and two of them have learnt Squeak on their own and are now into other languages. Paul should greet this innovative project with enthusiasm not negativity.

  12. Dave says: (permalink)
    May 6th, 2006 at 8:05 pm

    I think we can tell you’re a technical person by tendency. Your three goals for society would raise a pile of folk with an underdeveloped sense human interaction. Just a friendly jab that you can address by adding a fourth goal in the humanistic area: “(4) Mentor others in developing these skills and learning these concepts.”

  13. Danie Sharpe says: (permalink)
    May 11th, 2006 at 12:08 am

    I was just dreaming up a AD&D red dragon character called Moffeus – yup, you can ask but, perhaps you don’t want to know. Just for background, I was trying to make up the story of the unique Wyrm’s demise. A tragic but (according to Moffeus) grand end he had. In any case, next thing I know, I was asking myself, hey have you ever roleplayed a level 9 Voorktrekker? Then suddenly die Groot Trek became a campaign and old Phisiphwe fulfills his dream of becomes a bloodthirsty Zulu baking vetkoek with Boere ass and old Lucy becomes ou Pauly (soos ons hom daai tyd genoem het, ne). Whoa. Next thing I knew I was turning detention into an escape game and suddenly I saw 100 schools running the same campaign with each year using the previous year’s creations. I have a sore point with RPG in school and left early partly because of the resistance we found against such evil games (you tell the Zulu boy as he peels off another boere skin or that little buddist monk, travelling through the 5 day Mage of Wisdom). So hell, you got the one tool we are all basically BORN with. Imagination. Throw in a set of rules, lets say AD&D and start building real school modules children can play. Hell I’ll do Standard One again. I feel in larger multi national systems one can easily add adaptive rules make make things really suck during that Gnome Zeppelin Contruction. Yeah they used Ethanol for the Forward Engine last year but oh blacksam, the Ethanol is not available. You can then with those dodgy set of overachievers, add additional dymanic challenges. I would want to see high failure rates during scenarios lots of times and let that final examination inlcude a test worthy of any person. Multi-language implementation should be easy. How about getting a set of people from various contries to build a single complex system but allowing them only to speak their own language. I see a medium/longer term front end of note to accomodate things like gestures but you what, you almost don’t need a computer… Yummy.

  14. Emil Sit » Exploring math curricula says: (permalink)
    May 12th, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    [...] I still think teaching the ability to abstract is what’s ultimately needed. Mark Shuttleworth has the same idea; he blogged yesterday about his project to help develop curriculum that enable students to learn analytical skills through programming. [...]

  15. A sideways view of SqueakFest 2006 at Daniel Delapava says: (permalink)
    August 23rd, 2006 at 9:12 am

    [...] As expected, the fourth Summer SqueakFest was big fun, and the organization was great. Check out the video with Seymour Papert’s keynote presentation. As the fest was about to start here in Chicago, a very interesting thread titled “Alan Kay – another one of his ideas” was winding up in the EDU-SIG: Python in Education email list. Involved in this thread were Guido van Rossum (author of the Python programming language) and some very well-known squeakers like Andreas Raab and Yoshiki Ohshima — the latter presented Kedama (a massively parallel tile-scriptable particle system) during the fest. These discussions between squeakers and pythonists are not new; recently they have heated up since the Shuttleworth Summit on April and even more after Alan Kay’s “Children First” Europython 2006 keynote (videos here). This year’s SqueakFest was not a scenario for Seaside or Croquet, two edgy developments from the Squeak community that I am especially interested in and following closely. Probably many seasiders will gather around OOPSLA 2006, and the next big gathering for croqueteers will be the C5 2007 conference in Kyoto, Japan. A ride to Kyoto, anyone? [...]

  16. W.L. says: (permalink)
    January 7th, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    A time ago I have came across with Baltie (www.baltie.com). He’s a small magican for teaching programming not by writing text-code but using images as commands. We have started using it in our school 3 years ago and we have a huge response – (see what my son has done http://www.sgp.cz/cz/video/4BaltiesMsg.wmv).

  17. Ubuntu | Jonathan Carter: OLPC and Windows (and Microsoft and the education system) says: (permalink)
    April 30th, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    [...] One specific educational revolution that might take place would be an ideal application for the XO Laptop, and that’s the Classroom Coders project (that’s just a working name), here’s Mark Shuttleworth’s blog entry about a two day workshop on it that was held last year. Hopefully we can teach kids to think for themselves again, instead of teaching them how to shut up and listen. All that the current schooling system is good for, it seems, is to teach kids how to look busy when they are working in an office one day, and I personally think that it is ridiculous. People are discouraged to think for themselves and just to blend in with the masses, I hope that if I have kids one day, that they wouldn’t have to go through a pathetic system as I did. [...]

  18. Greg Bunyard says: (permalink)
    November 28th, 2007 at 6:51 am

    Hello Mark,

    I didn’t know how else to get hold of you so please forgive me ‘hijacking’ your blog.

    You may remember back to 2005 signing off, on behalf of The Shuttleworth Foundation, a entrepreneurship development sponsorship called the Ka-Ching! Business Parenting programme, where parents take an active role helping their own children develop business skills.

    I am happy to say the investment has allowed us to move forward, for which I am extremely thankful. The programme has expanded into schools as well now. Your old school ‘Wetpups’ being one of the schools that has really embraced it.

    You maybe aware that the Department of Education is embarking on an e-Education drive – but their deadline is 10 December 2007!

    What I want to do is make the EMS curriculum come alive through Ka-Ching! I want to take the burden off the teacher and inspire them. I mean how can a 50 something year old teacher with no business experience possibly excite their learners. But they need to! Sooner or later children around the country will have to use business skills or intra-preneurship skills developed at school.

    The EMS curriculum is a start, but it needs to take some major steps forward. Learners need to become excited about business and develop practical and real-life skills. This is what our country truly needs!

    I want to pitch to the DoE and specifically for becoming the preferred service provider for the e-Education initiative for EMS, so that every classroom, teacher and child all around the country start to develop the business skills they will HAVE to have in the not so distant future.

    My technical skills are ok but I could do with some direction? I thought we could reach the classrooms either via the web, ‘smart board’ technology or some other means?

    I am hoping for some advice or contacts of good people to talk to, so that this can become a reality. But the deadline is threatening so I would need to act really soon!

    If you have any ideas, please could you drop me an email info@ka-chingworld.com or call me in Cape Town on 021-843-3048 or my cell +27741126421.

    Thanks for your time!

    Greg Bunyard

  19. jonathan carter » Blog Archive » OLPC and Windows (and Microsoft and the education system) says: (permalink)
    March 7th, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    [...] and that’s the Classroom Coders project (that’s just a working name), here’s Mark Shuttleworth’s blog entry about a two day workshop on it that was held last year. Hopefully we can teach kids to think for [...]

  20. Kusasa project cancelled « Helen King says: (permalink)
    July 18th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    [...] we wanted to produce children from the education system that could, as Mark Shuttleworth’s blog [...]

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