Microsoft's KPL

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Microsoft's KPL

Guido van Rossum
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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Dethe Elza
I've taken a cursory look at KPL.  It appear very similar to Basic,  
but exposing the .Net libraries.  I guess now that VisualBasic has  
become another syntax for C#, they needed a new Basic for scripting.  
It has top-level functions for playing sounds, getting screen  
information, handling sprites, math, pen (shapes and color).  Kind of  
like combining a subset of DrawBot and PyGame, but backed by .Net  
instead of the Standard Library.

--Dethe

"We realize you had a choice betwen several bankrupt airlines to fly  
today, and we thank you for choosing our bankrupt airline." --Delta  
Airlines pilot


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27


> -----Original Message-----
> From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On
> Behalf Of Dethe Elza
> Sent: Monday, October 03, 2005 9:42 PM
> To: Guido van Rossum
> Cc: [hidden email]
> Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] Microsoft's KPL
>
> I've taken a cursory look at KPL.  It appear very similar to Basic,
> but exposing the .Net libraries.  I guess now that VisualBasic has
> become another syntax for C#, they needed a new Basic for scripting.
> It has top-level functions for playing sounds, getting screen
> information, handling sprites, math, pen (shapes and color).  Kind of
> like combining a subset of DrawBot and PyGame, but backed by .Net
> instead of the Standard Library.

I just devoted a few minutes to downloading it for a look see.

It seemed to install flawlessly.

The first thing I did was pull up the BouncingBall.kpl "learning program"
and hit the "go" icon.

And it bombed.

"""
Checking your programs for erros
No errors found
Running program BouncingBall.kpl
BouncingBal.kpl Line 26 - Main->LoadSprite Method not found....
"""

Of course in this kind of heavyweight environment I don't have a clue of
what the issue is and - more significantly - a clue on how to get a clue.

I find it hateful, but was expecting to.

I've uninstalled.

Art




>
> --Dethe
>
> "We realize you had a choice betwen several bankrupt airlines to fly
> today, and we thank you for choosing our bankrupt airline." --Delta
> Airlines pilot
>
>
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> [hidden email]
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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Dethe Elza


> -----Original Message-----
> From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On
> Behalf Of Dethe Elza
>
> I've taken a cursory look at KPL.  It appear very similar to Basic,
> but exposing the .Net libraries.  I guess now that VisualBasic has
> become another syntax for C#, they needed a new Basic for scripting.
> It has top-level functions for playing sounds, getting screen
> information, handling sprites, math, pen (shapes and color).  Kind of
> like combining a subset of DrawBot and PyGame, but backed by .Net
> instead of the Standard Library.

I would also mention effbots recently released wrapper to the AGG library:

http://effbot.org/zone/pythondoc-aggdraw.htm

pen, brushes, colors, lines and a host of other 2d primitives --)
extremely high-end rendering accessed in a lightweight environment - say
IDLE - without the burden of type declarations (which have to hurdle to
kids).

It simply better for the job - if that still counts for anything.

Art

>
> --Dethe
>
> "We realize you had a choice betwen several bankrupt airlines to fly
> today, and we thank you for choosing our bankrupt airline." --Delta
> Airlines pilot
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Edu-sig mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/edu-sig


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

david-2
In reply to this post by Guido van Rossum
Microsoft's "Coding 4 Fun" website referenced below is ostensibly intended
to boost hobby coding on the MS platform. But my understanding is that
Microsoft has one of those "we own you, body and soul, and everything you
create is owned by us" employee contracts. So you can't code for fun and
release the code if you are a Microsoft employee, unless you can somehow get
through the MS legal department.

Therefore KPL was not developed by Microsoft employees. And it doesn't
appear to be open source, either. (No source code available, and I couldn't
find any explicit license, other than a statement that it was "freeware".)

David H

On Mon, Oct 03, 2005 at 02:13:58PM -0700, Guido van Rossum wrote:

> Has anyone looked at this yet?
>
> http://msdn.microsoft.com/coding4fun/
>
> http://www.computerworld.com/developmenttopics/development/story/0,10801,105100,00.html
>
> --
> --Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)
> _______________________________________________
> Edu-sig mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/edu-sig
>

--
David Handy
Computer Programming is Fun!
Beginning Computer Programming with Python
http://www.handysoftware.com/cpif/
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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
> From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On
> Behalf Of David Handy


> And it doesn't  appear to be open source, either. (No source code
> available, and I  couldn't  find any explicit license, other than a
> statement that it was "freeware".

Nor - of course - is it cross platform.

I agree that is a relevant concern - but articulating why is somewhat
difficult.  I have little such concerns related to software for business use
- for example.  Nor am I unconcerned about the Open Source community's
tendency to be uncritical of efforts to distribute "educational software" -
based on little more than the merit of being cross platform and Open Source.

The best I can do is trying to make the analogy of the reaction to a release
of a scientific or academic paper that withheld citations and bibliography -
as confidential.  But of course -having them there does not make it a sound
scientific or academic paper.

I - like many others- welcome much of the disruption of the disruptive
technologies. On the other hand - disruption is disruption. And part of what
can and does get disrupted are sound common sense notions.

A company like Microsoft would be ashamed - based on more traditional
notions - of publicly promoting a position that the realization of the
potential of our children is part of their mission. The reality is they
spend enormous dollars promoting just such a position - with little general
reaction.  

If there was truth to such an assertion they should (and would) be satisfied
to let uninterested others find it, and promote it.

Quite possibly this concern/phobia/paranoia of mine is a tempest in a
teapot. A stage of be disruption will pass, and thinking around such issues
of children's education and the profit motive's of $multibillion business
enterprises will return to where common sense concerns regain their footing.

But I still see the jury as out.  So a few paragraphs sent into cyberspace
still seems worth the effort.

Art



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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27


> -----Original Message-----
> From: edu-sig-bounces+ajsiegel=[hidden email] [mailto:edu-sig-
> To: 'David Handy'; 'Guido van Rossum'
> Cc: [hidden email]
> Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] Microsoft's KPL
>
> A company like Microsoft would be ashamed - based on more traditional
> notions - of publicly promoting a position that the realization of the
> potential of our children is part of their mission.

I think I understated my position, a bit - in an effort to sound
"reasonable".

One should not expect a large corporation to have an emotion like "shame" -
that's clearly a form a anthropomorphism.

One should expect such an enterprise to act in a strategically sound manner.
And one might expect that it would be strategically unsound for an
organization like Microsoft or Disney or IBM or etc, and etc. to attempt to
promote themselves as having an altruistically based concern about
"learning" and "education".  Because it might well look ridiculous - and as
the movie producer in The Godfather says - "a man in my position can not
afford to be made to look ridiculous".

One would expect the most potent fire to come from the educational
community, the academic community.  

But groundwork has been laid.

It seems to me that the Microsofts and Disneys and etc. and etc. go forward
on these issues with some confidence that the fire coming from those
communities will be muted = at best. By understanding the current dynamics -
and survival modes - in those communities.

Yuck - its ugly.

Art


 






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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by Arthur-27

Hi Arthur --

I really do try to understand your concerns about businesses touting their
efforts in the education arena, and how much that concerns you.

For me it's more about recruiting i.e. for Microsoft to keep a new
generation of talent working in Redmond, it needs to have appeal as an
employer, plus needs kids growing up to know something of the Microsoft way
and lore.  Windows, X-Box and such.  If all home schoolers use are Linux and
OS X, and same for a generous pie slice of school computer labs, that's
maybe not so good, in terms of attracting future talented, fun & friendly
coworkers.

But Microsoft is not so narrow as to only care about Windows or Office or
SQL Server.  The .NET technology, which we've been discussing in this
thread, is a promising platform for Python, and .NET has a footprint in
Linux, in the form of Mono.  The technology is, once again, cross platform,
and that has a lot of appeal (I can even run Mono on Windows -- have it on
my Toshiba A60 WinXP laptop in fact, left over from OSCON 2005).  

Having lots of options is generally good for client businesses such as mine.
We don't like getting locked in to pricing structures, not Microsoft's, not
anyone's. Open source often looks a lot less predatory to small businesses,
even if harder to grok.  The programmer you hire is surviving on the basis
of skills, not secret access to back door source code.  The code is in the
open.  Kung fu is on merit, not unfair advantage.

Python, for its part, tends to go cross-platform because of its VM
architecture.  Like Java, it's designed to leave interpretation of the low
level byte codes to something native, written in something fast.  C, Java
and C#/CIL have been the VM source languages so far -- at least those are
the ones I know a little about (I'm not so sure what's in that Nokia cell
phone).

I'd be concerned if just one or two big companies felt they could hijack and
control our curriculum, but having thousands upon millions of competing
firms hawking their education-relevance doesn't so far bother me.  Free
speech and all that.  If you want to position as a friendly-to-kids, yet
commercially minded education company, go right ahead.  There's nothing
sleazy about that in pure principle (you're just recruiting coworkers), and
sure, there're lots of opportunities to mess up.  Conclusion: there's no
promise you'll succeed, but you do have the right to try, is my attitude.

Kirby


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Guido van Rossum


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kirby Urner [mailto:[hidden email]]
>
> Hi Arthur --
>
> I really do try to understand your concerns about businesses touting their
> efforts in the education arena, and how much that concerns you.

Maybe you are trying too hard.  In my mind, I am only stating the obvious.
And wondering why it seems to have become acceptable and common to ignore
it. Maybe you are looking for more than the obvious.

>
> I'd be concerned if just one or two big companies felt they could hijack
> and
> control our curriculum, but having thousands upon millions of competing
> firms hawking their education-relevance doesn't so far bother me.

Are there thousands upon millions of firms in a position to compete with
Microsoft, Disney and IBM?

More fundamentally, when was it that we decided that the kind of market
forces which work to bring us ketchup, work to bring us education.  The U.S.
- perhaps the most free-market force ever - had, until the technological
disruption, understood the importance of making one very fundamental
exception to the general rule that the markets rule - and that has been in
education.

And I think that is largely because it has been understood that there has to
be decisions as to what education *is* before it - education -  can be
accomplished.  And it has been understood that it would be irresponsible to
let the markets *define* education.  

That wisdom is in grave jeopardy.

As we see, the market defines education as  - what it can deliver.

Perhaps it's not.


Art


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Laura Creighton
Part of our problem is that the development of 'education for all' has
historically happened in the economic climate where the great need was
to convert surplus farm-labour into industrial workers.  Thus the sort
of things that were considered essential to a 'good education' was the
sort of things that may you _employable_.  (Before then, a huge number
of people didn't have _jobs_, simply a huge amount of work they needed
to do.  Housewives are in a similar position today.)  For better and
for worse, this has produced an educational infrastructure which is
driven by the demands of the employers on soon-to-become workers.

This works fairly poorly when combined with advanced high-technology
consumerism.  What happens when what your potential employers want
most from the soon-to-be workers is 'to not have to employ them at
all'?  As long as consumers keep spending, that is their only real value.

This is decidedly at variance with historical precident, where one's
value was as a _producer_, and where consumption merely happened to
balance the books, so to speak. (_Lack_ of consumption mattered,
in that if you produced something that nobody wanted, you would end
up with surplus stock, and the indication that something was terribly
wrong with your business model.  Or maybe the harvest was extra good
this year ....)  Scarcity was the norm.  Forgetting the problems
of 'my factory won't scale' and 'my product is so expensive that
I have very few potential customers', you could build a working
business model based on the idea that you could sell all that you
could produce.  Thus converting all the farm workers into producers
made sense.

But with prosperity came an end to scarcity.  The first manufacturers
ran into it when they discovered that the cost in transportng their
good to new customers made their prices uncompetitive.  At this point
in time, improvements in transportation technology drove the ability
of large firms to increase their markets.  Current technology is so
advanced that you can pick up raw materials from Canada, ship them to
South East Asia, make cars out of them, and ship the cars back.  It is
one big global market now.  The attempts to sell in China is the
pushing back of the last -- admittedly huge -- frontier.

But the upshot of all of this is that scarcity is over.  The market in
goods and services are saturated with offerings.  It doesn't do you
any good to make any more, since all you will do is waste money and
add to the glut.  Indeed, you are better off spending your money in
advertising, trying to promote averice, and 'stimulate demand'.

And where human beings really shine is at unskilled labour.  If you
invest heavily in touch screens and bar code readers, you can lower
the skills needed for a checkout clerk.  But they are cheaper than
robots at picking up goods and passing them over the sensors.

And it makes sense to pay them, at rates which exceed the value of
the service they provide.  You just pass on their costs onto the
price of the goods.  Because what keeps this over-balanced system
running at all is amount of circulation that the money does.  
Impoverishing the check out clerks to the point where they can no
longer function as consumers does not serve the interests of the
market as a whole.

But this means that the whole 'what is the purpose of education'
question is in serious need of revision.  It used to be that preparing
people for productive lives was enough.  These days a productive life
may not be what is wanted.  Perhaps a meaningful one would be a better
goal to strive for.

Laura
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Re: Microsoft's KPL

david-2
I find Laura's analysis of social and educational trends to be insightful
and accurate, but it doesn't go quite far enough in exploring the question
"what is the purpose of education in today's society?" I find this to be
on-topic, as it gets at the root of why I wrote a programming textbook for
teenage youth, instead of all the other things I could have done with my
spare time.

I'll only speak for U.S. society as that is what I know; all others apply
whatever fits. In addition to the trend of mindless consumerism that Laura
described so well, there have been two additional trends contributing to
changes in education: the weakening of family (parental) influence and the
growing role of schools as the tool of social engineering.

The family: Since the early 1900s women have been given the additional role
of working jobs outside the home as well everything they do inside the home.
Public schools now assume the role of babysitter and caregiver, at the
expense of education.  Also there is a growing trend of children being
raised without fathers; the resulting social and behavioral problems of
children are an additional burden on schools, further hindering education.

Social engineering: Everyone who wants to change the world starts by trying
to get control of the public schools so as to influence young minds in their
direction. I have noticed even on this list many wanting to get
Python/whatever into the official curriculum; it seems so much easier to get
one small group of government officials to push your agenda than to pursuade
parents and teachers. Unfortunately, the public schools then become the
battleground of ideologies, in the same way that government-run media
becomes the first target of any would-be revolutionary junta. Politics
rules the schools, and education suffers.

With all of this going on, it is a wonder that anyone learns anything useful
in school. Indeed, I have memories even from my elementary school days of
feeling that my time was being wasted, that I could be learning a lot
more and a lot faster, and that I was just being "babysat".

So where do I fit in here? I'm trying to be part of the solution, not part
of the problem. I don't have grandiose ideas about changing the course of
world events, but I think each one of us can change the lives of individuals
around us. I was greatly benefited by mentoring from engineers as a
teenager. I'm just trying to give back, by trying to give my own children
and others the same opportunities that I had. We on this list are mostly
self-taught, independent-minded people. We believe that people *can* rise
above mindless consumerism, that they can do something significant. I
believe that young people (and all people) are capable of doing a lot more
with their minds than what they currently do; that's why I believe that they
can learn, among other things, programming with Python.

David H.


On Fri, Oct 07, 2005 at 03:26:16PM +0200, Laura Creighton wrote:

> Part of our problem is that the development of 'education for all' has
> historically happened in the economic climate where the great need was
> to convert surplus farm-labour into industrial workers.  Thus the sort
> of things that were considered essential to a 'good education' was the
> sort of things that may you _employable_.  (Before then, a huge number
> of people didn't have _jobs_, simply a huge amount of work they needed
> to do.  Housewives are in a similar position today.)  For better and
> for worse, this has produced an educational infrastructure which is
> driven by the demands of the employers on soon-to-become workers.
>
> This works fairly poorly when combined with advanced high-technology
> consumerism.  What happens when what your potential employers want
> most from the soon-to-be workers is 'to not have to employ them at
> all'?  As long as consumers keep spending, that is their only real value.
>
> This is decidedly at variance with historical precident, where one's
> value was as a _producer_, and where consumption merely happened to
> balance the books, so to speak. (_Lack_ of consumption mattered,
> in that if you produced something that nobody wanted, you would end
> up with surplus stock, and the indication that something was terribly
> wrong with your business model.  Or maybe the harvest was extra good
> this year ....)  Scarcity was the norm.  Forgetting the problems
> of 'my factory won't scale' and 'my product is so expensive that
> I have very few potential customers', you could build a working
> business model based on the idea that you could sell all that you
> could produce.  Thus converting all the farm workers into producers
> made sense.
>
> But with prosperity came an end to scarcity.  The first manufacturers
> ran into it when they discovered that the cost in transportng their
> good to new customers made their prices uncompetitive.  At this point
> in time, improvements in transportation technology drove the ability
> of large firms to increase their markets.  Current technology is so
> advanced that you can pick up raw materials from Canada, ship them to
> South East Asia, make cars out of them, and ship the cars back.  It is
> one big global market now.  The attempts to sell in China is the
> pushing back of the last -- admittedly huge -- frontier.
>
> But the upshot of all of this is that scarcity is over.  The market in
> goods and services are saturated with offerings.  It doesn't do you
> any good to make any more, since all you will do is waste money and
> add to the glut.  Indeed, you are better off spending your money in
> advertising, trying to promote averice, and 'stimulate demand'.
>
> And where human beings really shine is at unskilled labour.  If you
> invest heavily in touch screens and bar code readers, you can lower
> the skills needed for a checkout clerk.  But they are cheaper than
> robots at picking up goods and passing them over the sensors.
>
> And it makes sense to pay them, at rates which exceed the value of
> the service they provide.  You just pass on their costs onto the
> price of the goods.  Because what keeps this over-balanced system
> running at all is amount of circulation that the money does.  
> Impoverishing the check out clerks to the point where they can no
> longer function as consumers does not serve the interests of the
> market as a whole.
>
> But this means that the whole 'what is the purpose of education'
> question is in serious need of revision.  It used to be that preparing
> people for productive lives was enough.  These days a productive life
> may not be what is wanted.  Perhaps a meaningful one would be a better
> goal to strive for.
>
> Laura
> _______________________________________________
> Edu-sig mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/edu-sig
>

--
David Handy
Computer Programming is Fun!
Beginning Computer Programming with Python
http://www.handysoftware.com/cpif/
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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by Arthur-27

> Maybe you are trying too hard.  In my mind, I am only stating the obvious.

But you *always* seem to think you're stating the obvious.  That's probably
why it's so hard to understand you.

> And wondering why it seems to have become acceptable and common to ignore
> it. Maybe you are looking for more than the obvious.
>

Maybe, maybe...

> >
> > I'd be concerned if just one or two big companies felt they could hijack
> > and control our curriculum, but having thousands upon millions of
> > competing firms hawking their education-relevance doesn't so far bother
> > me.
>
> Are there thousands upon millions of firms in a position to compete with
> Microsoft, Disney and IBM?

Certainly.  Because these stock market ticker decals you mention have a way
of going up and down in an ocean of others, which also go up and down.

In education, being a really small company is what's ultra cool.  Because
your students think they might want to be private, independent entrepreneurs
like you someday.  

> More fundamentally, when was it that we decided that the kind of market
> forces which work to bring us ketchup, work to bring us education.  The
> U.S. - perhaps the most free-market force ever - had, until the
> technological disruption, understood the importance of making one very
> fundamental exception to the general rule that the markets rule - and
> that has been in education.

Do you want to cite some sources here?  IBM is not in the ketchup business.
It has committed to supporting the Linux kernel, which got SCO all excited
because surely ownership of the Unix trademark counts for something (unless
that's Novell's).  But no, it's hours of original man hour that counts, and
geeks have their memories, their lore, their admiration structures.  They
know the Linux of today is no cheap rip off of some ancient Bell Labs source
code (which was actually pretty cool, but that didn't rub off on SCO).  In
adding to the kernel, IBM is acting in an educational capacity as well.
It's a two way street however:  it was an eye-opener for IBM lifers to "get
it" about open source culture.

The point of all this smalltalk:  where've you been Arthur?  We who bring
you ketchup bring you all that engineering you pay for and enjoy.  Your car,
your skyscrapers, your computer.  Since when aren't we in the education
business?  We taught you all you know.  Bucky had a name for us: the Grunch.

> And I think that is largely because it has been understood that there has
> to be decisions as to what education *is* before it - education -  can be
> accomplished.  And it has been understood that it would be irresponsible
> to let the markets *define* education.
>
> That wisdom is in grave jeopardy.
>
> As we see, the market defines education as  - what it can deliver.
>
> Perhaps it's not.
>
>
> Art

But a lot of those IBM lifers and open source snake charmers, perl divers,
gemologists and so on, went to schools to learn CS, and still recognize
names like Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Caltech... and so on.  Behind the big
name companies are the big name schools, and cool little ones, less well
known, but with dynamite reputations among disciplined insiders.  Are these
the institutions you think are being usurped by the free market?  But
they're still players too, and usually get major influence over alumni, well
before the employers do.  I don't think Princeton feels eclipsed by any
"market force" -- not even Microsoft.

I think IBM and Microsoft and any number of education-minded firms, should
rev their engines as much as they like in the "we're helping kids learn"
marketing department.  Then back up those claims by delivering the goods or
take your hit on the big board.  It's not like the universities will thereby
become slaves to corporate masters, nor even that government agencies will
bow out of providing training.  Private individuals have tremendous impact
as well, acting as authors, creative geniuses.  Just look at Harry Potter.  

Bugs Bunny did more to educate America than most.  He had a few people
behind him, not millions, yet our media culture has indeed millions of these
powerful stars (consider cartoon figures alone, not forgetting Pokeman).  So
no, I'm not worried that IBM will eclipse the vast forest of other trees
that is our Education Planet.  Nor do I have any problem with IBM standing
strong and tall for a long while, the way trees tend to do.

Kirby


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Laura Creighton
> From: Laura Creighton [mailto:[hidden email]]
> Sent: Friday, October 07, 2005 9:26 AM
> To: Arthur
> Cc: [hidden email]
> Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] Microsoft's KPL
>
> Part of our problem is that the development of 'education for all' has
> historically happened in the economic climate where the great need was
> to convert surplus farm-labour into industrial workers.  

I don't know, Laura.  You paint a coherent picture. But one considerably
more clinical than anything I can relate to from my own frame of reference.
And in that sense cynical.

In these kinds of discussions I find it difficult and unwise to move outside
my own frame of reference - what I know first hand.  As a historian or
economist I have nothing to contribute.  As an observer - and a decent one,
I think - perhaps I do.

Some good ol' (perhaps unexpected) flag waving:

I am one generation away from "your not wanted here", nothing but the shirts
on our backs, arrival here through Ellis Island.

>From there it's been right out the civic books, the ones we are supposed to
be too sophisticated and cynical to take seriously.  Opportunity. Reward for
hard work. Recognition for merit. No limits. None. My older sister has fun
from time to time introducing me to people you read about in history books,
or will. She might be one herself.

And in the middle of this - and essential to it - has been free public
education, with enough high-minded people contributing enough high-minded
effort to move my friends and family along in no particularly direction
beyond that which we have had the opportunity to chart for ourselves.

*That* is why I get emotional at threats to it - perceived or real.

Art



 


Thus the sort

> of things that were considered essential to a 'good education' was the
> sort of things that may you _employable_.  (Before then, a huge number
> of people didn't have _jobs_, simply a huge amount of work they needed
> to do.  Housewives are in a similar position today.)  For better and
> for worse, this has produced an educational infrastructure which is
> driven by the demands of the employers on soon-to-become workers.
>
> This works fairly poorly when combined with advanced high-technology
> consumerism.  What happens when what your potential employers want
> most from the soon-to-be workers is 'to not have to employ them at
> all'?  As long as consumers keep spending, that is their only real value.
>
> This is decidedly at variance with historical precident, where one's
> value was as a _producer_, and where consumption merely happened to
> balance the books, so to speak. (_Lack_ of consumption mattered,
> in that if you produced something that nobody wanted, you would end
> up with surplus stock, and the indication that something was terribly
> wrong with your business model.  Or maybe the harvest was extra good
> this year ....)  Scarcity was the norm.  Forgetting the problems
> of 'my factory won't scale' and 'my product is so expensive that
> I have very few potential customers', you could build a working
> business model based on the idea that you could sell all that you
> could produce.  Thus converting all the farm workers into producers
> made sense.
>
> But with prosperity came an end to scarcity.  The first manufacturers
> ran into it when they discovered that the cost in transportng their
> good to new customers made their prices uncompetitive.  At this point
> in time, improvements in transportation technology drove the ability
> of large firms to increase their markets.  Current technology is so
> advanced that you can pick up raw materials from Canada, ship them to
> South East Asia, make cars out of them, and ship the cars back.  It is
> one big global market now.  The attempts to sell in China is the
> pushing back of the last -- admittedly huge -- frontier.
>
> But the upshot of all of this is that scarcity is over.  The market in
> goods and services are saturated with offerings.  It doesn't do you
> any good to make any more, since all you will do is waste money and
> add to the glut.  Indeed, you are better off spending your money in
> advertising, trying to promote averice, and 'stimulate demand'.
>
> And where human beings really shine is at unskilled labour.  If you
> invest heavily in touch screens and bar code readers, you can lower
> the skills needed for a checkout clerk.  But they are cheaper than
> robots at picking up goods and passing them over the sensors.
>
> And it makes sense to pay them, at rates which exceed the value of
> the service they provide.  You just pass on their costs onto the
> price of the goods.  Because what keeps this over-balanced system
> running at all is amount of circulation that the money does.
> Impoverishing the check out clerks to the point where they can no
> longer function as consumers does not serve the interests of the
> market as a whole.
>
> But this means that the whole 'what is the purpose of education'
> question is in serious need of revision.  It used to be that preparing
> people for productive lives was enough.  These days a productive life
> may not be what is wanted.  Perhaps a meaningful one would be a better
> goal to strive for.
>
> Laura


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Laura Creighton
In reply to this post by Kirby Urner
In a message of Fri, 07 Oct 2005 09:52:09 PDT, "Kirby Urner" writes:
<snip>
>In education, being a really small company is what's ultra cool.  Because
>your students think they might want to be private, independent entrepreneurs
>like you someday.  

This might be a better model for a general education -- instead of
training people to be factory workers, we might try training them
to be small business owners and entrepreneurs.  It would certainly
be an interesting way to build a curriculum.

Laura

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is CP4E aiming to be "official" ?

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by david-2
> Social engineering: Everyone who wants to change the world starts by
> trying to get control of the public schools so as to influence young
> minds in their direction. I have noticed even on this list many wanting
> to get Python/whatever into the official curriculum; it seems so much
> easier to get one small group of government officials to push your agenda
> than to pursuade parents and teachers. Unfortunately, the public schools
> then become the battleground of ideologies, in the same way that
> government-run media becomes the first target of any would-be
> revolutionary junta. Politics rules the schools, and education suffers.

I'm not sure how exemplary Portland is, but in volunteering to teach Python
at my daughter's school, it's parents and teachers I'm working to persuade,
by earning positive reviews from their children and students.  I'm not so
much focused on government officials in distal or proximal bureaucracies.
I'm where the tire meets the road (one of several) doing Python in the
classroom.  Books like yours will help.  It's not a matter of making it
"official" but of just making it happen (unofficially will do).

> So where do I fit in here? I'm trying to be part of the solution, not part
> of the problem. I don't have grandiose ideas about changing the course of
> world events, but I think each one of us can change the lives of
> individuals around us. I was greatly benefited by mentoring from engineers

> as a teenager. I'm just trying to give back, by trying to give my own
> children and others the same opportunities that I had. We on this list
> are mostly self-taught, independent-minded people. We believe that people
> *can* rise above mindless consumerism, that they can do something
> significant. I believe that young people (and all people) are capable of
> doing a lot more with their minds than what they currently do; that's why
> I believe that they can learn, among other things, programming with
> Python.
>
> David H.

Well done and well put.

I've got two new Python + POV-Ray renderings hot off the screen this
morning:
http://www.4dsolutions.net/satacad/pythonicmath/icosa_in_holder.jpg
http://www.4dsolutions.net/satacad/pythonicmath/icosa_no_holder.jpg

I did these under contract.

How to do stuff like this is part of what I teach when I teach Python.

Kirby


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by Laura Creighton
> In a message of Fri, 07 Oct 2005 09:52:09 PDT, "Kirby Urner" writes:
> <snip>

> >In education, being a really small company is what's ultra cool.  Because
> >your students think they might want to be private, independent
> entrepreneurs
> >like you someday.
>
> This might be a better model for a general education -- instead of
> training people to be factory workers, we might try training them
> to be small business owners and entrepreneurs.  It would certainly
> be an interesting way to build a curriculum.
>
> Laura

Yes.  Here in Portland we have a new charter school working through the
bureaucracy, trying to set up on just this model:  a high school that turns
out entrepreneurs, ready for college, but also ready to go into business
(maybe in part to pay for college).  Koreducators.org is the org behind it.
I testified at the hearing, have been invited to do so again.

Kirby


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Laura Creighton


> -----Original Message-----
> From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On
> Behalf Of Laura Creighton
> To: Kirby Urner
>
> In a message of Fri, 07 Oct 2005 09:52:09 PDT, "Kirby Urner" writes:
> <snip>
> >In education, being a really small company is what's ultra cool.  Because
> >your students think they might want to be private, independent
> entrepreneurs
> >like you someday.
>
> This might be a better model for a general education -- instead of
> training people to be factory workers, we might try training them
> to be small business owners and entrepreneurs.  It would certainly
> be an interesting way to build a curriculum.

That *is* the education "we" got - or what many I know were able to make of
it.

Thinking about it - I am the only one in my immediate family, for 3
generations, that has ever drawn a paycheck for an extended period from a
profit making organization.  Either they have run their own small businesses
or worked for non-profits - religious or secular.  And only my grandmothers
*didn't* work - for money.

I eventually got out of the "affiliated" life.

And devoting some energy to learning Python was indirectly connected to
getting me out.

The other Python connection that comes to mind:

I happen to know that Guido's old boss at CNRI was out of the same free City
College that was my father.  I remember that because I had noticed it on his
bio and used it as a schmooze point when I had written to him as part of the
campaign to do what needed to get done to have JPython freed up when Guido
left there.

A free City College that produced more than its fair share of Laureate level
scientists.  

Though that was certainly not my Dad's crowd - his being more the
jock/mid-brow/prepare me for small business crowd. For which that college
provided an enormously effective curriculum.  

Which is the kind of fact *within* my frame of reference that conspires to
make me more the reactionary than the visionary.

Why is it so important to not look more admiringly at the past, in mapping
the future?  

Beyond  - of course - the fact that suggesting such tends to make one sound
like a dolt.

I have reached the blissful state of non-affiliation.  

And can afford not to care that he sounds like a dolt.

The affiliated world more respects the visionary, who knows we have had it
all wrong for all time.

We need new paradigms, of course.  

We buy into to his program - and in three month he has skipped town.

Art



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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by david-2


> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Handy [mailto:[hidden email]]
> Sent: Friday, October 07, 2005 12:10 PM
> To: Laura Creighton
> Cc: Arthur; [hidden email]
> Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] Microsoft's KPL


> Unfortunately, the public schools then become the
> battleground of ideologies, in the same way that government-run media
> becomes the first target of any would-be revolutionary junta. Politics
> rules the schools, and education suffers.

I understand the point, but think that stating it the way that you do
implies the possibility of a better alternative.

I myself am a reformed school voucher, get the government off our back kind
of guy.

Personal frame of reference -

My youngest first cousin - the product of the identical public schools as
myself - ends up in an Iowa city because of her husband's university
affiliation, spends 2 years as a desperately out-of-place New Yorker and 2
years later wins the election as head of the city's School Board, with no
particular agenda beyond  - let's make things work the best we can within
the limits of available resources and accommodating diverse sensibilities on
topics of sensitivity as best we can.  

Its legit.

And I guess that if Microsoft wants to undertake a campaign to suggest that
their business agenda and the realization of my son's potential are
cosmically related, I should, since I don't particularly admire the
organization welcome their right to spend good money to make themselves

LOOK RIDICULOUS.

Art



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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by Arthur-27

Just a footnote to signal Arthur's concerns were both timely and topical.
Grunch was indeed moving to shake things up in the education sector.  

And in PDX news of the day:  OMSI was partnering with television to make
cartoon production a featured exhibit (and implicitly a kid-friendly
recruiting exhibit -- the sciences want people too, and deserve good ones).

Kirby

Abbreviations:  OMSI = Oregon Museum of Science and Industry; PDX =
Portland, OR; Grunch = GRUNCH as in Gross Universal Cash Heist as in 'Grunch
of Giants' a book by RBF; OR = Oregon; RBF = R. Buckminster Fuller, R =
Richard.

===========================

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF STATE SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS COALITIONS
News Brief #3285 Category: Business Role in Education  
TITLE: "Companies Unveil Projects to Improve Math, Science Learning"

Two major corporations are investing millions of dollars in programs
intended to improve math and science learning.

The General Electric Foundation will distribute $100 million in grants over
the next five years to raise math and science scores in up to five school
districts.

The Jefferson County, Kentucky school district is the first to receive a
$25-million grant. The district plans to use the money for a new
districtwide curriculum, additional professional development, and community
engagement efforts.

The IBM International Foundation will pay college tuition costs for up to
100 employees who want to train as math and science teachers. In order to
participate in the "Transition to Teaching" program, employees will have to
have a bachelor's degree in math or science (or a higher degree in a related
field), some teaching experience, and at least 10 years of employment at
IBM.

The U.S. Department of Labor has predicted a 51-percent increase in jobs
related to science, engineering and technology between 1998 and 2008. More
than a quarter-million secondary math and science teachers will be needed by
the 2008-09 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

SOURCE: Education Week, 28 September 2005 (p. 06)
WEBSITE: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2005/09/28/05ibm.h25.html

--------------------------------------------
The NASSMC Briefing Service (NBS) is supported in part by the International
Technology Education Association and Triangle Coalition for Science and
Technology Education. Briefs reflect only the opinions, findings,
conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the source articles. Click
http://nbs.nassmc.org to SUBSCRIBE, COMMENT, or FIND archived NBS briefs.
Click http://www.nassmc.org for information about NASSMC. Permission is
granted to re-distribute NBS briefs in unmodified form, including header and
footer.

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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by Arthur-27
> And I guess that if Microsoft wants to undertake a campaign to suggest
> that
> their business agenda and the realization of my son's potential are
> cosmically related, I should, since I don't particularly admire the
> organization welcome their right to spend good money to make themselves
>
> LOOK RIDICULOUS.
>
> Art
>

Microsoft already has a track record.  KPL is not the first move in any
chess game.  It's like the 45th or 46th.  Look at the 'Magic School Bus'
series of CD ROM titles, the encyclopedias.  Yes, it's less involved with
direct teaching of CS and job-related skills, but Ms. Frizzle is a recruiter
nonetheless, for a way of life, an attitude towards science (embrace it, get
messy).  For older people, there's Microsoft University and MCSE.

I'm not extolling, not trying to hype MSFT or IBM, just pointing out the
obvious:  given a big computer company and a huge target market of people
wanting to someday be desirable as coworkers in Silicon Valley, Redmond,
wherever, it's not surprising that a relationship develops.  We see the same
phenomenon around Google, and its sometimes clever recruiting campaigns.  

This design pattern is not inherently ridiculous, but can become so,
especially if it's a circus recruiting for clowns.

In the Middle Ages, and Renaissance, we had these guilds, offering
apprenticeships, and doing obvious work in the community (blacksmiths,
artisans, moneychangers and what have you).  Today, kids carry laptops like
musical instruments and want to learn to play them.  Is school teaching this
kind of music?  A little, some more than others.  And home internet is
great.  To me it's not surprising when young talents start dreaming of what
they could learn if allowed to wander the halls of a computer giant -- like
little Bachs yearning to hear real organ music.

I realize this makes corporations sound sort of like religions in their
outreaching for new lifers.  And it's true.  Some companies are really
cultures, sometimes global in scope.  They enter the public school system
and form push/pull relationships with other clients of that system, setting
up interesting cross-currents.  That's partly why I think public school
stands up well over time, perhaps best of all in urban settings.  Too many
of the private academies over-protect their bumpkins, in the name of some
purist ideology, usually as professed by key faculty -- and so they miss a
lot of what goes on in the big outside world.  Life goes on without 'em.

Public schools tend to be more like Grand Central, especially in a state
with a big city like yours, the Empire State (not called that for nuthin').
Cosmopolis, Gotham, whatever.

Kirby


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