ramping up to programming

    • Scratch :Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge.
    • Pre-processors for writing code in one’s native language: should be possible, I think, quite easily. In principle, each keyword and syntax contruct would map to its corresponding version in the “actual” language.

For example:

عمر = ۱؛
جب تک (عمر < ۱۲) {
لکھو "میری عمر " + عمر + " سال ہے مگر میں بڑا ہو کر بڑا آدمی بنوں گا! "

Unfortunately, to get all the characters I needed, I had to use both the “standard” Urdu keyboard and the phonetic one.

Or, in French:
âge = 1;
jusqu_a(âge < 12){
écris(“quand je serai grand, je serai un grand homme!”);
This, oddly enough, turned out to be non-trivial as keys like < and > as well as the plus sign are not easy to find in the French keyboard (too many keys taken over by their accented keys, in my opinion!)
It’s much worse in Urdu as WP’s display mechanism, at some point, totally screws up text direction.

  • Junaid teaches the “intro to computing” at Namal using a set of resources called Computer Science Unplugged. The idea is to introduce learners to “thinking like a machine” – a process which is non-intuitive (especially serial processing) before even getting into programming (though they do go there). To quote at some length from their site:

The primary goal of the Unplugged project is to promote Computer Science (and computing in general) to young people as an interesting, engaging, and intellectually stimulating discipline. We want to capture people’s imagination and address common misconceptions about what it means to be a computer scientist. We want to convey fundamentals that do not depend on particular software or systems, ideas that will still be fresh in 10 years. We want to reach kids in elementary schools and provide supplementary material for university courses. We want to tread where high-tech educational solutions are infeasible; to cross the divide between the information-rich and information-poor, between industrialized countries and the developing world.
There are many worthy projects for promoting computer science. The main principles that distinguish the Unplugged activities are:

1 No Computers Required
2 No Computers Required
3 Real Computer Science
4 Learning by doing
5 Fun
6 No specialised equipment
7 Variations encouraged
8 For everyone
9 Co-operative
10 Stand-alone Activities
11 Resilient

But how is that relevant to our work? I’m not entirely sure, but as we’re building a repository of ideas, I thought that these go together in terms of making information processing skills accessible to a larger number of people.

Author: amanullah

technoskeptic, reluctant programmer, realist with a vestige of idealism find it hard to resist the pull of grand theories

3 thoughts on “ramping up to programming”

  1. Teaching CS concepts without computers is something definitely worth exploring. On a similar line, teaching computational/algorithmic thinking to kids as well as grownups bypassing the traditional syllabus and school/college/classroom environment is a possibility worth looking into.

    1. more content to make accessible (in this case, translated to Urdu):


      It occurred to me that we can take inspiration from the geeks and fund-raisers and organise “trans-a-thons”: a group of people dedicate a weekend to translating a bunch of related stuff. Not suitable for poetic content, but would work well for a lot of scholarly, technical as well as current affairs material. And it’ll be fun!

      1. “Trans-a-thons” are an excellent idea! Once we have got the hang of managing a few translation tasks, I don’t see any reason why the same set of sharing effort could not be applied to gathering and possibly vetting poetic content – with an ‘approval’ workflow built in – as well.

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