Monday, June 25, 2012

Code as Craft

Subtitled - what I wish I was doing for my summer vacation.

The image is from the Hacker School this summer. While I am doing AP training and schlepping all over town for swim team practice, other folks are spending three months at what is basically a coding retreat. First off - make sure you read the logo above. It says "Code as Craft" if you aren't wearing your glasses.

This is an idea I have been playing with a lot this spring. Obviously in teaching computer science there is a point where students have to demonstrate an ability to program something.

Bu does it always have to be C++/Java/insert your favorite language here?

Maybe not. This last year at SIGCSE I sat in on a talk about knitting patterns as a type of programming language.

Anyone that knows me knows I knit. A lot. And there really is something to this idea.

After you sit down and work in C++ you get a program of some level of usefulness. Knitting patterns you end up with something fuzzy. The sleeves may not be the same length, but you do have an artifact.

The basic idea of using an algorithmic language to communicate a set of instructions is the same. The idea of learning a skill and practicing until your artifact is useful and even beautiful is the same.

So this summer I am trying to think of some ways to incorporate this into my classes next year. Beyond the "make a peanut butter sandwich to teach algorithms" I'd like to find a way to show them that these languages are all about creating artifacts. And there is beauty in that.

More info on Hacker School:

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