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Why I Teach Kids to Code

Lynn Langit
9/19/2016 08:00 AM EDT

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David Ashton
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Re: Teaching teachers
David Ashton   9/20/2016 10:34:59 PM
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@Bert...sorry, been busy.  My Alliance Française lady was Mme Decoster, a tiny Vietnamese lady who believed in total immersion ("Je ne suis pas ici pour parler Anglais...") and it certainly worked!

But I digress....girls and math.... I think as Elizabeth says above, it is more peer pressure and teacher pressure that is involved. Which makes it almost certain that any girl who is immune to or overcomes such pressures starts off with a good desire to learn math and will do well.  

I had a similar thing when I was in the last two years of school.  I wanted to mix arts and sciences and do Math, French and English.  There was Serious pressure not to mix arts and sciences so I ended up doing math, Physics and Chemistry.  Fairly bored as a result and at that stage electronics and music were fairly distracting so lost interest in school... enventually got expelled, but that is another story.  My point is that, while not pushing anyone into anything, anyone should be given free rein to do what they are interested in, and they will almost certainly do well at it.  Push them into something they are not interested in and you're wasting everyone's time.

 

elizabethsimon
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Re: Teaching teachers
elizabethsimon   9/20/2016 3:14:31 PM
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I think in most cases it's not so much the school but individual teachers and peer pressure that give the impression that girls shouldn't like math. I was fortunate in having good teachers who encouraged me.

 

perl_geek
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Hidden Figures
perl_geek   9/20/2016 2:18:56 PM
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I believe that was featured at the Toronto International Film Festival, (just ended). I hope to catch it. It sounds as though they were the distaff descendents of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Thanks for correcting my omission of Admiral Hopper, and mentioning Sophie Germain. There was a rather large hiatus in my timeline. I began to wonder if any of the 18th. century's bluestockings had ventured into mathematics. She (sort of) qualifies; only just 18th century, and not really one of the set.

Steve Knapp
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Re: Teaching teachers
Steve Knapp   9/20/2016 2:43:17 AM
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@perl_geek, I haven't seen it yet but there's a movie due out January 2017 called "Hidden Figures" about some of the women at NACA (the precursor of NASA).
http://observer.com/2016/09/meet-the-black-female-mathematicians-who-helped-nasa-win-the-space-race/

 

 

Steve Knapp
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Re: Teaching teachers
Steve Knapp   9/20/2016 2:34:28 AM
I especially like the idea of teach a bit of history along with the mathematics and computer science.  There are MANY great examples.

Sophie Germain: Her parents considered mathematics to be an inappropriate occupation for a lady of stature so she would sneak into her father's library to study late at night. Her parents allegedly withheld warm clothing to dissuade her.  She corresponded with many of the greats at the time including Euler and Gauss.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Germain

Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace (Lady Ada Lovelace):  Daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron. She was essentially the "software engineer" for Charles Babbage's steam-punk Analytical Engine.  The programming language "Ada" is name for her.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_Lovelace

Rear Admiral Grace Harper (aka "Amazing Grace): One of the first programmers on the Harvard Mark I computer and is credited with inventing the first compiler for a programming language.  The Cray XE6 supercomputer "Hopper" is named after her as is a guided missile destroyer, the USS Hopper (DDG-70).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper

Two of my three daughters currently love mathematics.  Hopefully, the schools don't beat it out of them.

lynnlangit
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Re: Teaching teachers
lynnlangit   9/19/2016 8:42:17 PM
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My middle school was in Fargo, North Dakota.  My daughter went to middle school in Irvine, CA.  When I tell this true story as a professional technical speaker around the world, it is a common occurence for one or more audience members, usually woman, to tell me that they've had a similiar experience.

I opened with this quote becuase it is true and unfortunate.  While I am happy to hear that in some other reader's experiences, this has been not been true, it unfortunately still too often is - and that is why I chose to open this post with this comment.

Bert22306
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Re: Teaching teachers
Bert22306   9/19/2016 5:24:02 PM
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Wow, we do share this Alliance Francaise experience, David. Mme André, in my case, the quintessential Parisienne.

But my puzzlement in this is to hear continuing stories of how girls are told that they don't do math. Not just because I hardly noticed that in my own Junior High and High School days, at all, in fact we had several girls who took math all the way through AP courses, and we had more than one dynamite woman math teacher and physics teacher, but also because 30 years later, my daughter did not have that experience either.

So what is this recurring anecdotal commentary?

My daughter, in grade school, was already taking a course in Basic. Girls and boys took the course. Then in 9th grade, was taking a junior level programming course in Pascal. The principal did not question why a girl was taking the course, but why a 9th grader was taking the course. And the teacher told her, "She's one of my best students." End of story.

So where are these schools that tell girls they can't like math? It sounds a bit like "victim mentality."

I think teaching programming is great, by the way, because it forces kids to be strictly logical. There are plenty of courses that teach about vagueness and ambiguity, so it's great to also have courses that force the kids to focus, to be strict, or things won't work.

David Ashton
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Re: Teaching teachers
David Ashton   9/19/2016 5:05:52 PM
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@Perl_geek.... well said Sir.  The number of teachers who can really inspire kids is very small.  I was lucky, I had two (in physics and biology) who inspired my love of science and electronics in particular)  and much earlier one at junior school who taught everything, as they did at that time (who contributed to my love of reading).  (All were male,  But later on I remember a female French teacher at the local Alliance Francaise who was also good.)   But if I had been a girl, the perception that girls don't do science was alive and well.  It still is today, though much reduced.    How many more Margaret Hamiltons could we have had if this had not been so?

perl_geek
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Teaching teachers
perl_geek   9/19/2016 3:44:12 PM
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Never mind teaching teachers to code, teach them to teach, starting with some history:

[Note this first sentence has undergone considerable revision and the elimination of several adjectives NSFW.]

Hypatia of Alexandra http://www.ancient.eu/Hypatia_of_Alexandria/ (not that her fate was terribly inspiring)

The ENIAC women: http://eniacprogrammers.org/ who were there because they were mathematicians (I'll give him a potential pass on that one, since they were fairly obscure until recently)

Margaret Hamilton of the Apollo project:

https://medium.com/@3fingeredfox/margaret-hamilton-lead-software-engineer-project-apollo-158754170da8

and that's just from the first surge of anger.

Overpaid child-minders have to keep their charges in secure custody so that their parents can go to work, but they shouldn't limit thir choices otherwise, especially out of simple ignorance

.Anecdotal evidence from a nephew who was a victim of the process, suggests that teachers who don't understand programming (as well) are an effective way vaccination against youthful interest in the topic for both sexes. (It's probably true of other topics as well. Teaching Shakespeare as literature to analyse rather than scripts to act ought to be illegal, at least until upper high school.)

 

 

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