[erlang-questions] Erlang for youngsters

Mark Nijhof mark.nijhof@REDACTED
Mon Jun 16 13:55:37 CEST 2014

+1 on this, this rings very true to home. But I also believe that it needs
to return results quickly. I.e. building a game is great, but if they have
to "code" for days before they see something happen then they loose
interest (assumption). So preparing "building blocks" might be a good
approach and have them first implement higher level stuff and then step by
step dig deeper and implement the building blocks you prepared.

An other exercise I planned is to program a drone (not sure about the
language there yet) to fly an obstacle course. So they see it is not just
something that happens on their iPads ;)


On Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 1:36 PM, Mahesh Paolini-Subramanya <
mahesh@REDACTED> wrote:

> The most important thing here I believe is to have a nice collection of
>> simple tasks/problems that are appealing to the target audience and best
>> (easiest/nicest) solved in Erlang.
> Amen!
> The least relevant part of teaching kids programming is the syntax, or the
> choice of language - they don't, and won't, give a s**t about it.
> As a simple thought experiment, just look at how you raised your kids in a
> multi-lingual environment (yes my American brethren, this is hard. Pretend
> :-)  )  Notice how they - fluidly - bounce across languages, massacring
> every grammar rule ever, but quite happily making sure that you understand
> that "I amn't going to eat pea, ನಾನು ತಿನ್ನಲ್ಲ, ನಾನು ತಿನ್ನಲ್ಲ, odio odio
> odio la piselli, i don't wanna, where is my red truck?"
> Mind you, they will pick up the rules over time, but the key here is the
> importance of the problem at hand ("How To Avoid Eating Peas") - the more
> immediately relevant it is to the young 'uns, the more rapidly they will
> pick up the tools, the specifics of the language be damned.
> Cheers
> On Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 6:55 AM, Ferenc Holzhauser <
> ferenc.holzhauser@REDACTED> wrote:
>> The most important thing here I believe is to have a nice collection of
>> simple tasks/problems that are appealing to the target audience and best
>> (easiest/nicest) solved in Erlang. That's a bit of a challenge considering
>> that Erlang is created to solve problems that are rather "industrial" and
>> most people "from outside" can't really relate to. If the audience is not
>> comfortable with understanding the problem itself then it is tricky to make
>> them understand/like the solution too.
>> This we can see with many new people getting into Erlang: The problems
>> they are given are new and difficult to understand. So they often just go
>> off and eagerly try to solve all sort of issues they are familiar with
>> (even when they are not relevant in the particular case) before even trying
>> to understand what the real challenge is. Then they start complaining that
>> Erlang is not very good for some/many of those issues they are busy with.
>> And other way around: people coming to Erlang with the right
>> understanding of the problem area it is made for find it amazingly simple
>> to learn.
>> Coming from the wrong (or right ?) background my imagination fails to
>> come up with these appealing challenges for the youngster target group, but
>> I'm sure many of you can do much better.
>> Ferenc
>> On 16 June 2014 11:31, Miles Fidelman <mfidelman@REDACTED> wrote:
>>> Garrett Smith wrote:
>>>> On Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:51 AM, Torben Hoffmann
>>>> <torben.hoffmann@REDACTED> wrote:
>>>> -snip-
>>>>  I think that a learning resource focused on teaching people the Erlang
>>>>> model from the
>>>>> ground up would be a great improvement. A clear narrative around how
>>>>> do we solve a
>>>>> problem the Erlang way. Teaching the basic constructs is not the
>>>>> problem.
>>>>> My initial target for such a learning resources would be young people
>>>>> in the higher
>>>>> grades of elementary school, say 12-15 years. Why? Because I want to
>>>>> influence them
>>>>> before their minds are totally corrupted by other programming models.
>>>>> I don't think we would have to dumb anything down in particular for
>>>>> this group - we
>>>>> just have to find a cool example and organise the learning around how
>>>>> to become so
>>>>> good that one can solve such a problem.
>>>>> Some sort of game will probably be the best candidate, say, some sort
>>>>> of Transport
>>>>> Tycoon clone?!?!
>>>> I don't have enough experience teaching programming to this age group
>>>> to provide anything more than a hunch. But I suspect that the Erlang
>>>> way, which is hard enough for very seasoned programmers to grok, might
>>>> be a bit ambitious for these young learners.
>>>> I'm speaking in particular about the model that emerges when you
>>>> isolate processes. It changes everything: your approach to building
>>>> software (move from state oriented to activity oriented), error
>>>> handling (move from defensive measures to assertive/let-it-crash),
>>>> program structure (from monolith to system), and so on. The benefits
>>>> of this shift are hard to get across, in my experience anyway. I wish
>>>> it wasn't, or I wish I was better at communicating.
>>> I'm with the folks who suggest that this group has fewer pre-conceptions
>>> to unlearn.
>>> It strikes me that the actor model is far more natural for certain
>>> classes of problems - network code, simulation, and gaming come to mind.
>>>  It's simply conceptually easier to think in terms of LOTS of independent
>>> processes.
>>> Miles Fidelman
>>> --
>>> In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
>>> In practice, there is.   .... Yogi Berra
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> * Mahesh Paolini-Subramanya
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Mark Nijhof
t:   @MarkNijhof <https://twitter.com/MarkNijhof>
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