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Does turtle graphics have the wrong associations?

 
 
Alf P. Steinbach
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      11-12-2009
One reaction to <url: <url: http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3> has
been that turtle graphics may be off-putting to some readers because it is
associated with children's learning.

What do you think?


Cheers,

- Alf
 
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Terry Reedy
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      11-12-2009
Alf P. Steinbach wrote:
> One reaction to <url: <url:
> http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3> has been that turtle
> graphics may be off-putting to some readers because it is associated
> with children's learning.
>
> What do you think?


I just started using the module for simple plots.
I am not a child.
You cannot please everyone.

 
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AK Eric
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      11-12-2009
On Nov 12, 11:31*am, Terry Reedy <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Alf P. Steinbach wrote:
> > One reaction to <url: <url:
> >http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3> has been that turtle
> > graphics may be off-putting to some readers because it is associated
> > with children's learning.

>
> > What do you think?

>
> I just started using the module for simple plots.
> I am not a child.
> You cannot please everyone.


I used Turtle back on the Apple in the early 80's... so I personally
have very positive feelings towards it To each their own eh?
 
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Peter Nilsson
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      11-13-2009
"Alf P. Steinbach" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> One reaction to <url: <url:http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3> has
> been that turtle graphics may be off-putting to some
> readers because it is associated with children's learning.


[I'll be honest and say that I merely glanced at the two
pdf files.]

Who is your target audience? The opening Getting Started
paragraph would probably put off many beginners right from
the get go! You're talking about a 'first language' but
throwing 'syntax', 'windows', 'graphics', 'networking',
'file and database access' and 'standard libraries' at them.

The success of 'XXXX for Dummies' is certainly not their
accuracy, but rather that they make far fewer assumptions
that people already know the subject being tought! That
assumption seems almost ingrained in every 'beginner'
programming book I've ever seen!

> What do you think?


Whilst everyone knows children tend to think visually more
than abstractly, the same is precisely true of adults.
However, the ultimate problem with Turtle is that it ends
up teaching a 'mathematical' perspective and it's far from
intuitive how you map that perspective to tackling more
real world issues. It's simply substituting one difficult
abstraction with another.

My recollection is that many children struggled with Turtle
graphics because they had very little concept of trigonometry.
[Why would they? Many wouldn't learn for another 2-10 years.]
Adults tend to have even less concept since they almost never
use trig (or much else from school in the real world.

They can see the patterns and understand there's a logic to
it, but they struggle replicating it. Get an angle wrong
and you end up with a mess where it's not clear whether it's
your algorithm or the maths that's at fault.

The visual aspect might pique interest, but may put just as
many people off. In any case, it won't relieve the difficulty
of having to teach what is fundamentally an abstraction that
doesn't have very good parallels with how people approach
problems in the real world. Humans simply don't think like
mathematicians^W computers.

I've met a lot of mathematics and comp sci teachers who
honestly believe that you can't teach these subjects without
a mathematical perspective. That stands in contrast to the
number of people I see using spreadsheets with a very high
proficiency who would never dream of saying they were good
at mathematics or programming.

--
Peter
 
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Vincent Manis
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      11-13-2009
On 2009-11-12, at 11:36, AK Eric wrote:
> On Nov 12, 11:31 am, Terry Reedy <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> Alf P. Steinbach wrote:
>>> One reaction to <url: <url:
>>> http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3> has been that turtle
>>> graphics may be off-putting to some readers because it is associated
>>> with children's learning.

Take a look at Abelson and diSessa's _Turtle Geometry: The Computer as a Medium for Exploring Mathematics_ (MIT Press, 1986). This is most definitely not a kids' book. Chapter titles include `Topology of Turtle Paths', `Piecewise Flat Surfaces', and `Curved Space and General Relativity'.

As well as being a very nice 2D graphics API, turtles let you explore very deep math. Of course, they also let you explore cybernetics and feedback; see some of the old MIT AI Lab reports on LOGO for that (you can find them at MIT's CSAIL lab website). For a lot of that, you actually need a robot turtle, like perhaps a LEGO Mindstorms robot. Seymour Papert (who did a lot of the MIT LOGO work) was, before his terrible motor accident, in research chair endowed by...LEGO. Hmmm...

Of course, some people don't like Python itself because they are afraid of snakes.

> I used Turtle back on the Apple in the early 80's... so I personally
> have very positive feelings towards it To each their own eh?

I did my master's thesis on LOGO about 10 years before that, and I have VERY warm and fuzzy feelings about turtles

-- v
 
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Raymond Hettinger
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      11-13-2009
On Nov 11, 10:21*pm, "Alf P. Steinbach" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> One reaction to <url: <url:http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3> has
> been that turtle graphics may be off-putting to some readers because it is
> associated with children's learning.
>
> What do you think?


How about calling it Raptor Graphics that will please everyone


Raymond
 
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Alf P. Steinbach
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      11-13-2009
* Raymond Hettinger:
> On Nov 11, 10:21 pm, "Alf P. Steinbach" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> One reaction to <url: <url:http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3> has
>> been that turtle graphics may be off-putting to some readers because it is
>> associated with children's learning.
>>
>> What do you think?

>
> How about calling it Raptor Graphics that will please everyone


He he.



import turtle as raptor
raptor.shape( "triangle" )

def draw_poison_bush( level, angle, stem_length ):
start_pos = raptor.pos()
raptor.left( angle )
raptor.forward( stem_length )
if level > 0:
draw_poison_bush( level-1, 30, 0.7*stem_length )
draw_poison_bush( level-1, 0, 0.85*stem_length )
draw_poison_bush( level-1, -37, 0.65*stem_length )
raptor.right( angle )
raptor.goto( start_pos )

raptor.title( "A DANGEROUS poison bush!" )

raptor.left( 90 )
raptor.back( 180 )
draw_poison_bush( 6, 0, 80 )

raptor.mainloop()



Cheers,

- Alf
 
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Alf P. Steinbach
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-13-2009
* Peter Nilsson:
> "Alf P. Steinbach" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> One reaction to <url: <url:http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3> has
>> been that turtle graphics may be off-putting to some
>> readers because it is associated with children's learning.

>
> [I'll be honest and say that I merely glanced at the two
> pdf files.]
>
> Who is your target audience?


Someone intelligent who doesn't know anything or very much about programming and
wants to learn general programming.


> The opening Getting Started
> paragraph would probably put off many beginners right from
> the get go! You're talking about a 'first language' but
> throwing 'syntax', 'windows', 'graphics', 'networking',
> 'file and database access' and 'standard libraries' at them.
>
> The success of 'XXXX for Dummies' is certainly not their
> accuracy, but rather that they make far fewer assumptions
> that people already know the subject being tought! That
> assumption seems almost ingrained in every 'beginner'
> programming book I've ever seen!


Yes, I totally agree with not assuming knowledge. However, (without implying
that you think so) lack of knowledge is not lack of brains. I assume an
intelligent reader, someone who doesn't balk at a few technical terms here and
there.

Pedagogically it's a challenge, because a correspondence between knowledge and
brains is so often assumed, and the field of knowledge accordingly (but mostly
by historical accident) divided up into "basic", "medium level" and "advanced".

And so an explanation of something that's trivial to someone who already knows,
something in the "basic" category, might seem (to someone who confuses knowledge
with brains) to assume a dumb or childish reader. But in reality the
intellectual challenge of something in the traditional "basic" category can be
greater than for something conventionally regarded as "advanced". So I strive to
not make any distinction between traditional levels of knowledge in the field,
but rather to focus on what's relevant and on how hard something would be to
grasp for someone without the base knowledge and experience.


>> What do you think?

>
> Whilst everyone knows children tend to think visually more
> than abstractly, the same is precisely true of adults.
> However, the ultimate problem with Turtle is that it ends
> up teaching a 'mathematical' perspective and it's far from
> intuitive how you map that perspective to tackling more
> real world issues. It's simply substituting one difficult
> abstraction with another.
>
> My recollection is that many children struggled with Turtle
> graphics because they had very little concept of trigonometry.
> [Why would they? Many wouldn't learn for another 2-10 years.]
> Adults tend to have even less concept since they almost never
> use trig (or much else from school in the real world.
>
> They can see the patterns and understand there's a logic to
> it, but they struggle replicating it. Get an angle wrong
> and you end up with a mess where it's not clear whether it's
> your algorithm or the maths that's at fault.
>
> The visual aspect might pique interest, but may put just as
> many people off. In any case, it won't relieve the difficulty
> of having to teach what is fundamentally an abstraction that
> doesn't have very good parallels with how people approach
> problems in the real world. Humans simply don't think like
> mathematicians^W computers.
>
> I've met a lot of mathematics and comp sci teachers who
> honestly believe that you can't teach these subjects without
> a mathematical perspective. That stands in contrast to the
> number of people I see using spreadsheets with a very high
> proficiency who would never dream of saying they were good
> at mathematics or programming.


Uhm, yes, I agree. I've tried to limit the math to what most anyone can handle.
No geometry so far! Although it will have to be discussed for graphics. But
although most ch 2 examples are graphical, graphics generation as such is not
discussed. It's like the difference between driving a car and designing one. You
don't need an engineering degree to drive a car.


Cheers, & thanks,

- Alf
 
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BGB / cr88192
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-13-2009

"Peter Nilsson" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> "Alf P. Steinbach" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> One reaction to <url: <url:http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3>
>> has
>> been that turtle graphics may be off-putting to some
>> readers because it is associated with children's learning.

>
> [I'll be honest and say that I merely glanced at the two
> pdf files.]
>
> Who is your target audience? The opening Getting Started
> paragraph would probably put off many beginners right from
> the get go! You're talking about a 'first language' but
> throwing 'syntax', 'windows', 'graphics', 'networking',
> 'file and database access' and 'standard libraries' at them.
>
> The success of 'XXXX for Dummies' is certainly not their
> accuracy, but rather that they make far fewer assumptions
> that people already know the subject being tought! That
> assumption seems almost ingrained in every 'beginner'
> programming book I've ever seen!
>


yep, but I guess it depends some on the type of beginner...

many beginner books take the style of lots of examples and verbosity, and
trying to gradually ease the person into the topic, ...

also common is more of a "crash course" style, where topics are introduced
and defined, and where the contents tend to be far more categorical (in
these books, often the later chapters and/or appendices are long, and often
consist largely of definitions and reference material).

there are merits to both styles I think...


I have also seen where they try to fictionalize the topic, or turn it into
some huge mass of allegories, but I don't really like this style so much...

it is possible the 'turtle' may hold these sorts of associations...


>> What do you think?

>
> Whilst everyone knows children tend to think visually more
> than abstractly, the same is precisely true of adults.
> However, the ultimate problem with Turtle is that it ends
> up teaching a 'mathematical' perspective and it's far from
> intuitive how you map that perspective to tackling more
> real world issues. It's simply substituting one difficult
> abstraction with another.
>
> My recollection is that many children struggled with Turtle
> graphics because they had very little concept of trigonometry.
> [Why would they? Many wouldn't learn for another 2-10 years.]
> Adults tend to have even less concept since they almost never
> use trig (or much else from school in the real world.
>


yep, much the same as trying to teach trig in a pseudo-fantasy setting by
addressing the relative dimensions of the various parts of Excalibur...

one gets much more amusement out of just watching a sword fight where all
they do is whack the swords into each other and pause momentarily, with
whoever was doing the mixing unable to get the delay between the swords
hitting and the 'clang' much less than about 300ms...


> They can see the patterns and understand there's a logic to
> it, but they struggle replicating it. Get an angle wrong
> and you end up with a mess where it's not clear whether it's
> your algorithm or the maths that's at fault.
>


yep...

simple, unstructured, thinking is easier.
if one screws up somewhere, it is a lot easier to find and correct the
problem.

this is probably part of why procedural and OO have traditionally been more
popular than functional programming:
one does not have to try to bend their mind so much to get things written or
figure out just what the hell is going on...

granted, some level of mind-bending in necessary for programming, but IMO it
is more of a necessary evil...


> The visual aspect might pique interest, but may put just as
> many people off. In any case, it won't relieve the difficulty
> of having to teach what is fundamentally an abstraction that
> doesn't have very good parallels with how people approach
> problems in the real world. Humans simply don't think like
> mathematicians^W computers.
>
> I've met a lot of mathematics and comp sci teachers who
> honestly believe that you can't teach these subjects without
> a mathematical perspective. That stands in contrast to the
> number of people I see using spreadsheets with a very high
> proficiency who would never dream of saying they were good
> at mathematics or programming.
>


apparently, I don't even approach math in a mathematical manner...


I had thought I had understood math, and I use it enough, but I am
suspecting that the thing I am familiar with is a good deal different than
that seen by mathematicians (partly as a result of some interactions with,
and observation of, physics teachers...).

or, it could be that my world is severely 'bent' because of my exposure to
computers, and almost complete lack of need or desire to write proofs or to
expand-out and perform huge amounts of symbolic manipulations by hand...


so, I guess my difficulty curve is rather "unusual" as well...

I live in a world where vectors and matrices are fairly simple, and
quaternions would be, apart from my near inability to intuitively understand
or visualize their behaviors...

and, in this same world, set theory and predicate logic are evil beasts best
avoided at all cost...


and, it seems, traditional math screws me over even with seemingly trivial
problems...

and, it does not take long to figure out that, for example, even a trivial
operation such as renormalizing a vector becomes a marathon of pain...

A=<Ax, Ay, Az>
|A|=sqrt(Ax^2+Bx^2+Cx^2)
B=A/|A| = <Ax/|A|, Ay/|A|, Az/|A|> = <Ax/sqrt(Ax^2+Bx^2+Cx^2),
Ay/sqrt(Ax^2+Bx^2+Cx^2), Az/sqrt(Ax^2+Bx^2+Cx^2)>=...


I would far much rather think:
N(A)=A/|A|

and leave it as that, this way we factor out everything leaving mostly
abstract operations...
(once we know the operation, we no longer need to care what it is or how it
works...).

but, other people want to expand everything out and turn it into a big
evil-looking mess, bleh...


> --
> Peter



 
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Jonathan Campbell
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      11-13-2009
Alf P. Steinbach wrote:
> One reaction to <url: <url:
> http://preview.tinyurl.com/ProgrammingBookP3> has been that turtle
> graphics may be off-putting to some readers because it is associated
> with children's learning.
>


Incidentally ... something you may wish to consider for inclusion in you
book ... games programming and Pygame.

See, e.g.,

Andy Harris, Game Programming (L Line: The Express Line to Learning),
John Wiley & Sons, 2007, ISBN-10: 0470068221 or

Will McGugan, Beginning Game Development with Python and Pygame : From
Novice to Professional, APRESS, 2007, ISBN-10: 1590598725.

I have the impression that there are many young people who could learn
programming via games programming. On the other hand, in languages like
C++ or Java, the threshold to games programming is extremely high.

Not so using Pygame.

The additional nice thing about Pygame is that it is based on a Python
binding of SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer) an open-source games API. This
could mean easy migration to C++ games programming (using SDL).

Best regards,

Jon C.

--
Jonathan Campbell www.jgcampbell.com BT48, UK.
 
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