Monday, March 3, 2008

A Compiler For Every Child

Over on Yahoo (hat tip: CodeGear), Robin Raskin has an interesting inversion of "No Child Left Behind" called "All Children Move Forward".

The language "No Child Left Behind" evokes certain ideas. If you're familiar with the infantry rule of not leaving men behind, for example, you could see education as a battlefield with lots of wounded--an analogy that works on a lot of levels.

In any event, it's an inherently defensive phrase. The fact that you'd feel the need to emphasize not leaving children behind suggests that you are, in fact, leaving children behind. Lots of children. Enough for you to make a point out of stopping. (A tee-totaler doesn't make strong statements about how he'll never drink again.)

Anyway, the article's data point is on CodeGear's deal to authorize a million licenses to Russia. Good for them. Delphi is a great tool, and friendly enough for kids to grasp quickly while having depth they would be hard-pressed to exhaust.

Smart move, too, because those kids will grow up and whose tools will they be familiar with? (Delphi was released 13 years ago last month, which raises some other points of interest.)

What never fails to come up is that there's no one to teach these tools. (OLPC detractors make this point, as well.) It's doubtless true that a big chunk of children won't be able to--or will lack interest to--suss all this out for themselves. But the percentage that will is larger than zero. To the gifted outliers, this will be manna from heaven.

And the rest? Well, remember, there are teachers. Way more than ever before. The internet is full of them. No one really needs to learn much of anything alone these days. The more tools kids have, the better.

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