Monday, October 14, 2013

Correctness impedes expression

In kindergarten and grade one these days, teachers encourage kids to get their thoughts onto paper any old way.  They don't explain how to spell every word and they certainly don't stop kids and correct their spelling.  For a beginning writer, it will likely be all caps, and the teacher may not even suggest spaces between words.  Here's my first grader's recent work:

wanda-yi wan-t toa school 
and i wat to room 
four it was nis 
iasst the tishr wat 
harnamwas martha She 
was nisdat war day sH- 

This means "One day I went to a school and I went to room four.  It was nice.  I asked the teacher what her name was, Martha.  She was nice that(?) were day she (unfinished?)"   Don't you love the phonetic "wandayi" for "One day I" ?  I do.   Note that the letter "I" is used for long sounds like in "nice", because that makes sense before one learns that that sound can be spelled many ways including "ie", "i?e", "aye", or "y".

Okay, cuteness aside, I flashed to thinking about XCode while Martha explained why they teach writing this way:  it's hard enough for a kid, writing slowly and awkwardly, to get three words out onto paper, let alone a whole page of writing.  Many kids get intimidated by corrections and worry of mistakes.  Instead of answers, she gives them a whole bunch of resources: try sounding it out, think of a similar word, try looking somewhere else in your own writing, see if the word is somewhere else in the room.  Above all, she encourages practice and resourcefulness rather than perfection.

Unlike Martha, XCode is like the stereotypical teacher from 60 years ago who would stand over you constantly and warn if she even thinks you're about to make a mistake.  "That's wrong."  "No, it's still wrong".  "That's somewhat better, but still not good."  "Now that's right, but now this is wrong."

Maybe that's why I still use TextMate for Ruby.  If the code doesn't have the right syntax, I'll learn about it later.  (I write tests.)  But for getting an algorithm out of my head and onto the screen, I much prefer not to be corrected and warned constantly while I'm doing it.

No comments:

Blog Archive

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.