School for Poetic Computation

April 25, 2013 at 1:09 am 2 comments

I love the idea of this school.  It reminds me of Donald Knuth’s Turing Award lecture Computing Programming as an Art and of Guy Steele’s call for an MFA in software practices.

We are interested in craft, and the idea that every writer needs space and time to hone their trade. Our school aims to provide a safe haven – so you could get acquainted with the craft at your own pace, make it your own, find that part between your true creative process and the craft. This takes time, encouragement, the right push at the right time, conversations with colleagues, and more time.

via SFPC – mission.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ernesto León De la Rosa  |  April 25, 2013 at 2:47 am

    Reblogged this on Memes:~Education.

  • 2. Jim Eng  |  April 25, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I taught an introductory programming course to 300-500 students at the University of Michigan a decade ago. All agreed I did a pretty horrible job, which is why I am no longer teaching.

    The course was structured with large lectures two or three times a week and smaller “discussion section” meetings once a week, taught by graduate student instructors. Students did weekly programming assignments that were graded by a script that returned feedback to them after each submission. They could submit multiple times before the deadline to see how they did. The “autograder” focused on how well students were able to match required outputs and whether they organized their programs along the lines we were teaching them to do (using classes and methods, for example). I think I’m safe in saying that the structure of the course was pretty horrendous also.

    In the course of teaching this course for a couple years, I became convinced that if you are going to try to teach students computer programming, the effort should be more like teaching creative writing. Programming students should be mentored like student writers are in the best Creative Writing courses. At worst, the student-instructor ratio should be a dozen or a few dozen students per instructor, and they should spend time discussing the student’s writing (as well as programming concepts, problem solving approaches, etc).

    The Computer Science department had no budget for what I suggested to them. I’m not sure anyone took it seriously. And I’ve lost track of what they do now to teach courses like that.


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