TITLE: A Loosely-Connected Friday Miscellany AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 07, 2009 2:18 PM DESC: ----- BODY: An Addition to My News Aggregator Thanks to John Cook, I came across the blog of Dan Meyers, a high school math teacher. Cook pointed to an entry with a video of Meyer speaking pecha kucha-style at OSCON. One of the important messages for teachers conveyed in this five minutes is Be less helpful. Learning happens more often when people think and do than when they follow orders in a well-defined script. While browsing his archive I came across this personal revelation about the value of the time he was spending on his class outside of the business day:
I realize now that the return on that investment of thirty minutes of my personal time isn't the promise of more personal time later. ... Rather it's the promise of easier and more satisfying work time now.
Time saved later is a bonus. If you depend on that return, you will often be disappointed, and that feeds the emotional grind that is teaching. Kinda like running in the middle. I think it also applies more than we first realize to reuse and development speed in software. Learning and Doing One of the underlying themes in Meyers's writing seems to be the same idea in this line from Gerd Binnig, which I found at Physics Quote of Day:
Doing physics is much more enjoyable than just learning it. Maybe 'doing it' is the right way of learning ....
Programming can be a lot more fun than learning to program, at least the way we often try to teach it. I'm glad that so many people are working on ways to teach it better. In one sense, the path to better seems clear. Knowing and Doing One of the reasons I named by blog "Knowing and Doing" was that I wanted to explore the connection between learning, knowing, and doing. Having committed to that name so many years ago, I decided to stake its claim at Posterous, which I learned about via Jake Good. Given some technical issues with using NanoBlogger, at least an old version of it, I've again been giving some thought to upgrading or changing platforms. Like Jake, I'm always tempted to roll my own, but... I don't know if I'll do much or anything more with Knowing and Doing at Posterous, but it's there if I decide that it looks promising. A Poignant Convergence Finally, a little levity laced with truth. Several people have written to say they liked the name of my recent entry, Sometimes, Students Have an Itch to Scratch. On a whim, I typed it into Translation Party, which alternately translates a phrase from English into Japanese and back until it reaches equilibrium. In only six steps, my catchphrase settles onto:
Sometimes I fear for the students.
Knowing how few students will try to scratch their own itches with their new-found power as a programmer, and how few of them will be given a chance to do so in their courses on the way to learning something valuable, I chuckled. Then I took a few moments to mourn. -----