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Learning to program
Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby
Now that Beth is 9½, I figured that it is time for her to learn some simple programming. I started programming when I was a similar age, in Commodore Basic on a VIC-20. With a wealth of languages and learning resources available, I thought back to my childhood enthusiasm for computers, and what I currently find exciting, and decided that Ruby would be a good bet. I use it extensively at work, and generally find it a mood-lightening language to work with.

I figured that it would be useful for her to start off with the groundwork of programming — thinking in terms of input and output, variables, and algorithms. A command-line interface was appealing; I don’t see the value in teaching programming through graphical tools.

Beth spent today working through the first few chapters of the book I bought her, Learn to Program, a child-friendly introduction to programming Ruby that concentrates on teaching programming, rather than just teaching Ruby. She responded with enthusiasm, and is looking forward to more in the morning.

I’m rather disappointed that her school don’t appear to teach any real computing; they are taught to use office apps and web sites, but as far as I can tell, don’t get near to programming. This is a missed opportunity.
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http://code.org/learn (from the "hour of code" project) and http://scratch.mit.edu

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