Saturday, June 09, 2018

On multi-lingual education

Having grown up in Lebanon, I was taught French and Arabic throughout my schooling and then English from Grade 6. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity. When my family migrated to Australia, I was able to begin my university studies without the need to spend a year learning the language. When I decided to write a Master's thesis, I found that many experts in that subject were French-speaking researchers from Switzerland.

In this blog post, I make one simple suggestion for languages education in Australia. I have no illusions about the reach of my blogposts or any expectation that anyone will take up this proposal. The most I am hoping for is a discussion with those interested in the topic and generous enough to offer a comment.

My proposal

Choose two languages and make sure every Australian child can study one or both of them from prep to year 12.
Please keep reading to see my justification. I quite possibly anticipate your objections.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Teaching abstraction to high school students

I have often found Abstraction a difficult concept to explain in high school computing classes. I now think that I found a few good examples to illustrate this concept and this post is about one of them.
First, let's define the word:
Abstraction ... is the process of taking away or removing characteristics from something in order to reduce it to a set of essential characteristics. (Abstraction on
In other words, we hide some detail so we can concentrate on the essential features of the problem at hand. Below, I will attempt to illustrate with an example which is implemented in Snap!, a block-based language created at the University of California, Berkeley.

The problem

Say, for instance, we wanted to draw this brick wall:
Brickwall activity from Beauty and Joy of Computing, UC Berkeley