Friday, January 6, 2012


"Students expect lectures", I am told. I think lectures are a rotten way to try to teach programming - it is a practical skill, and you learn (at least at the elementary level) by doing it, not by reading about it. Via the philosophy/politics blog Crooked Timber:

I already subscribe to too many podcasts, but this looks good.

As an aside, this section on teaching physics echoes some of the material on "folk psychology" I studied a couple of years ago as part of an OU philosophy course - "eliminative materialists" think our traditional analysis of mental events ("folk psychology") can be replaced with a more scientific version, just as "folk physics" has been replaced by mathematical physics (and I think Hestenes and Halloun were cited in the paper I read - I'll have to dig it out). If you ask people who haven't studied physics how weights behave in gravity, what happens if you cut a pendulum string, and other similar questions, they'll give the wrong answer. But chuck a ball at them, and they'll catch it (that's "folk physics" - being able to predict how things behave, despite lacking an underlying theory).  What reminded me of the philosophy paper was the observation that even after a course of lectures, most of the students who had in theory been taught mathematical physics were still giving the wrong answers.