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Zuckerberg to Teach 10 Million Kids 0-Based Counting

theodp (442580) writes | about a year ago

2

theodp (442580) writes "'Why do programmers start counting at zero?' wondered Mike Hoye, questioning the conventional programming wisdom. Code.org will soon introduce the practice to a hoped-for audience of 10 million schoolchildren as part of Computer Science Education Week's Hour of Code. In a tutorial created by engineers from Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook that's intended to introduce programming to kids as young as 6-year-old, an otherwise breezy lesson featuring look-ma-no-typing Blockly and characters out of Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies, a Mark Zuckerberg video introducing the concept of Repeat Loops includes an out-of-place JavaScript example that shows kids it's as easy as 0-1-2-3 to generate 4 lines of lyrics from Happy Birthday to You by using zero-based numbering with a For loop and ternary If statement. Accompanying videos by Bill Gates on If Statements and basketball star Chris Bosh on Repeat Until Blocks show the Code.org tutorial is still a work-in-progress. Which is no big deal, since CSEdWeek has pushed back the delivery date for final Hour of Code tutorials from its prior little-time-for-testing due date to Dec. 9th, the first day of a five-day period during which teachers are expected to deliver the lessons to 10 million students."

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I gues Zuck man slept through Sesame Street. (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#45430947)

Zero is not a counting number, far as I can figure. It's a placeholder - and another term which I fergits.

Altogether now, how many apple seeds does Johnny have? One, two, three...? Or zero, one, two...?

You want to initialize a scalar(do I have that right?) or array, start with zed if you wish. But if you're going to count something, start with one. This is the kind of crap that helped lead so many otherwise maybe-bright people into arguing about a zeroth year viz. the turn of the millenium, fer chrissakes. (A calendar is counting, it doesn't rise to arithmetic.) Not that I minded the extra party to attend.

I strongly suggest that anyone not into being totally arbitrary, or who consider themselves expert on this, read the linked article. It does take some time and even, perhaps, some thought, but it's worth it. I include here a telling paragraph,

"Whatever programmers think about themselves and these towering logic-engines we’ve erected, we’re a lot more superstitious than we realize. We tell and retell this collection of unsourced, inaccurate stories about the nature of the world without ever doing the research ourselves, and there’s no other word for that but “mythology”. Worse, by obscuring the technical and social conditions that led humans to make these technical and social decisions, by talking about the nature of computing as we find it today as though it’s an inevitable consequence of an immutable set of physical laws, we’re effectively denying any responsibility for how we got here. And worse than that, by refusing to dig into our history and understand the social and technical motivations for those choices, by steadfastly refusing to investigate the difference between a motive and a justification, we’re disavowing any agency we might have over the shape of the future. We just keep mouthing platitudes and pretending the way things are is nobody’s fault, and the more history you learn and the more you look at the sad state of modern computing the the more pathetic and irresponsible that sounds."

Selah.

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