Rethinking CS Education

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and with that it is my honor to  introduce you Ellen can work you know
this is just a little preliminary  warning here
the the internet  has done in supported
criticism  it's
like Gresham's law bad money drives  out
the good and there's so much  unsupported
criticism that good
  criticism criticism that supported is
  often claimed to be a rant
but this is  not a rant
however it will be critical
so my first exhibit
here is a kind
of  American dream so it
is the trappings of  riding
the bicycle as it's
very fancy  it has training wheels
the buyer of
this  device would be a parent probably
and  most important
thing about it is it's  like frets
on a violin it happens the  training
wheels actually don't help you  to learn to
ride a bike in fact they  help you towards the opposite
the number  one skill you have to learn when
you're  riding a bike is to balance and turn  into
the turns and the training wheels  prevent you from doing
that and so the
is not a joke just when I was
looking for slides for this on the  internet I found amazingly
that there  are a number of adult societies
that  have bikes with
training wheels like  this this is not a joke these people
do  Turing they race everything
else because  this is what they learned now of course  many
children get off the training  wheels at
some point  but significant
numbers of adults don't
now the way you to write
a bike and this  is relatively
recent compared to the  training wheel phenomenon is
you what  you want is to get the kids low bikes  they
don't even have any pedals because  that's not the
germane part if you want  low bytes so they
don't fall over and  they can it's kind of like a scooter and  what
you do is you learn to glide and to  turn
into the thing that's how you learn  to ride a bike
so these two exhibits
are  very germane I think
to what we're  talking about today so
I think of this  side as marketing
marketing is basically  dealing with
what people want and that  is
a large number like we want sugar we
  want fat we want fantasy football
we  have many many
wants and if you're  interested in it you
might look at a  book called human universals by
grant Brown who's an anthropologist  who's identified
about 300 things
  genetic things that
we are born wanting  and
many of the consumer
society  successes today are
technological  amplifiers for those things
now the
other group of people that are  interested in who people are
about we should be interested in who the  user is going
to be our educators
they  also study this is what we're supposed  to
be doing here I want to try and  differentiate
between the two and  education
educators are interested in  what people need
so this is requires  taking a moral stance
and it's tricky  because
of course we are all flawed  beings
also and people who take moral  stance
who are floral flawed beings  often wind
up with something that  resembles a religion or a cult
but still  what the educators
doing is essentially chain  rather
than catering and
in many cases  people don't
want what they need in
fact  there's a whole field called behavioral
  economics came
after Anthropology got  politicized
we fortunately have this  branch of cognitive
psychology called  behavioral economics that has
been  looking at what people do not what
they  say people as they are rather than
as  they're supposed to be and so the
  interesting question it would be really  nice
if we can get people to want what  they need and there
are some actual ways  of doing that
and I'll mention mention a  couple
so this
is mice I could not find  a picture of this
proper British lady I  had supper
with 30 years now in London
but Mary Poppins she was the Mary  Poppins type
and we had a great  conversation and drifted
into education  and at some point
she said oh you  Americans
have the best high school  education in the world and I
said what  and she said
what a pity you have to go  to college to get it
now graduate school
so there
are these  tests of reading the National
Assessment  of Educational Progress they
have a  dismal standard
for what they call  proficient reading it's not
what we  would call proficient but it's the main  one that
has looked at that's mainly for  K through 12 but
what school if you dig  around on
their website you can find  that they've also looked
at using the  same criteria at
graduates graduates of  four-year colleges
and universities and
in 1992
42 percent of
college graduates
  were proficient or better
so less than  half
in 2003 11 years later
when they  did it was down to 31 percent
so  colleges are not even guarding
the  literacy so
what this says to me that on  this average I mean this is
one number  for 4,000 institutions
but what it says  is that lump
together colleges are  essentially selling
degrees we kind of  know that but that's what
because the college is not actually  guarding
what it means to be educated  that
in some very important census they  are
giving people degrees who cannot  possibly be educated
another little  preliminary idea
here is because we're  we
tend to use indo-european languages
  including the ones came
out of India  those languages
are very noun oriented
now and
there's mostly about things the  things don't
interpenetrate and
so if we  think of ideas as matter
they oppose  each other but we also could
ideas as being made  of radiation we
got superposition now we  can shine as many lights in
the same  spot as we want and we don't have to  resolve
them we can look at the mixtures  of
them and we can consider them  separately we don't
have to make a  decision they're all occupying the
space and I'm offering this up as a  metaphor because
before Design  Thinking was a phrase the
number one  thing about design is being able to hold
mutually incompatible things in your  head for a very
very long time before  you make
any commitments we
tend to  commit early much too early
so things  are processes nouns or
verbs here's the  t-shirt for today
this is silicon valley  so
this would have been you know we  always make t-shirts so my
design  t-shirt would show the superposition of
  ideas as radiation
and can't
do a talk  without a Winston Churchill story
there  are so many good ones and
I'll avoid my  tendency to digress to
tell you five of  them but
the one that's good at this one  he was at a party there
he is smoking  his cigar and the
hostess who is a  duchess came over to
him and said mr.  Churchill I'm so distressed
I just saw  Earl so-and-so
over there steal one of  my silver salt
shakers and
Churchill  thought for a while and he went over
the Earl and on the way picked up  another salt shaker and put it in
his  pocket and when he got over to the Earl  he took
it out and he said I think we've  been noticed perhaps
we should put these  back
  so this is how you if you
want to get  something done the way you do it is not
so much trying to convince somebody but  to create
a tribe that is a conspiracy  because
anthropologically that is what
  we are more than any other thing we are  tribal
beings and we tend to  automatically oppose
things outside of  our tribe even
if they're good ideas  because that isn't the way we think  in
fact we don't think we're not  primarily
thinking animals
so this
thing  about coding is
often mentioned
side by  side with jobs competitiveness
diversity  it's
got a million things going on with
  it but I thought I'd put
up three other  things that I think need
to be thought  about first and one of
them is our I  think
our primary duty as adults is not
  to go out and get a job but to
think  about the next generation
that's part of  the larger picture of thing a
job is  just about us and now
children are the  next
generation and Marshall McLuhan  said
children are the messages
we send  to the future but my
retort to McLuhan  was no
they they are the future we're  sending to the future
they're not a  message they are the future and
  got another duty in a
society that has  created so much wealth by
a certain  complicated difficult kind
of  cooperation the reason
we're all here is  not because we're competitive reason
  we're here is because we live in a  larger
structure in which competition  the
hunting and gathering parts of us  that
go back a couple hundred thousand  years are subsumed
  a larger set of cooperation that
creates  all of the wealth hunting and gatherers
  need fertile valleys created
by somebody  else nature they
strip it dry that's the  impulse and move on sounds
a little bit  like business doesn't
even sound the  agricultural but
in order to scale our  natural
tendencies to exploit we have
something very very different and  we
are the beneficiaries of that
so for  thinking about education my
even bother with this for a while  let's
worry about what's really going on  and then
there's this idea which is  almost
never talked about in
our  pragmatic society like ours
which is I  just been calling
richness it can happen
  in the context of work it
with children can happen with citizen  chip
but it's basically something that  is the
man does not live by bread alone  idea
and I
believe that this is
a  rallying point to try and understand
what the rest of education is about  particularly
as it relates
to how we  should think about children
in the next  generation
ok so that was one I'm  basically
doing five points here
  I look at a look
at them a little more  deeply I usually don't do that I don't  like top-down
stuff but I figured for
  this talk it would be good so the first  thing had to
do with you know what what  are some
of the contexts that we care  about second context
is humans 101
so  one part of it is
of course we're very  complex but
our minds  are
very theatrical the
way we respond  to theater
is also the way we respond
what we like to call reality which in  itself is a kind of
theater and there  are a few people here who
are there are  some neuro people here right I saw
  anybody yes
so tell them all about it  this afternoon
so these are  understanding
more about what's going on
  here is really important so the the  theatrical
thing another one is our
  minds are tiny here's George Miller one
of the inventors of cognitive psychology  and fact
7 plus or minus 2 has been  downgraded
plus or minus 2 was dealing  with number sequences
and stuff and this
has been looked at and a lot and the  truth is is that we're terrible
at  multitasking and in fact it is
very  difficult for us to sensibly deal with
  multiple things even if they have been
  chunked hugely so
we can think of this  as like if you take these two
ideas  together this is also user interface
  design 101 we
have theatrical reactions  to things we
need to create theater when  we're creating a user interface
design  and we're completely limited and
so  playing those off against each other is  tremendously
important we'll look at  this a little bit more and then
a more  controversial idea is that we are mostly  not
human this is
something that is  outside of the myth that human
beings  like to believe in but in fact we
a lot  of us is primate and a
whole lot of us  is mammalian and
how that plays out  against
some of the more recent  additions
to our mental apparatus  particularly our culture are
interesting  so these three things are things that  are worthwhile
holding in mind by the  way these are things that computer
  people just hate to think about most  computer
people went into computing  because they were disturb
  by other human beings
one of the  reasons that coding
programming has  stayed so much
the way it is terrible  set of ideas that
were almost necessary  in the 40s
and 50s are still around  today as
the primary ways of doing  programming
because they are the most  mechanical ways
that in the small they  are the most understandable
reliable the problem is in the large  they don't scale
at all in the large  they are the least
reliable way of doing  anything and it's only
by looking at  tiny little places that people have any
  comfort at all and so they stay with  where they're
comfortable this is so
the  theatrical part of this is lots bigger
  than we think the limitations are much
  less or smaller than we think and the
  relationship we have with our
heritage  is much we
are much more different than  we think we are
okay now the third idea  here would
go back to the first Turing  Award winner
this little gnome of a man  was one of the great
men of our time  Alper Lowe's and
he more or less created  computer
science and I thought since the
  CS term is bandied about a lot it might  be interesting
to see what the guy who  invented the term actually meant by
it  so he said this in
the early 60s and  somebody said
what does that mean and he  said computer science
is the science of  processes I remember
science  he didn't mean science as in library  science
he didn't mean sciences and  social science he
actually meant science  he didn't mean it as a metaphor
he meant  we need to have a science of things
in  process and there are a gazillion of
  them that is what he meant he didn't
have an engineering definition that's  something
else he said we need to  understand
things in process and he
meant all processes meant mechanical  processes
  technological processes there's the
  Constitution social processes
the guys  who did the Constitution
were social
  geniuses they actually put
together a  system better than any computer system  we've
ever done because it has millions
  and millions of not terribly cooperating  parts
and it is basically thrived with
  some hiccups along the way for hundreds  of
years think about that and the cops
  Constitution I have a version of it with
me is just a tiny little book it's a  meta
recipe for a
very complicated multi  processing operating
system far far  beyond anything we've been able to
do  and of
course biology and of course  mental
processes all of these processes  were things
and the other thing that  pearl Ellis said is
looking at  all processes it itself because of
what  it is can serve as a representation a
  kind of a mathematics for all processes  so this
is a big idea this is an  exciting idea
it excited me it's
like  one of the greatest things I hate to see  computing
and computer science water  down to some
terrible kind of  engineering that the Babylonians
might  have failed at with
tiny conceptions of  programming a computer
like munging  variables with an
assignment statement  that is pathetic and
I'm saying it in  this strong way because
you need to  realize that we're in the middle of
a  complete form
of bullshit that has grown  up out of
the pop culture colliding with
  this power this power and wealth
in  order to serve education which
i think  is much more still should be about
people need rather than what they want  education can't
cave in to what the pop  culture
does it has to think about  itself
as being about the  culture that developed
culture shouldn't  get rid of the pop culture cop
pop  culture has incredible energy
any  developed culture needs that energy
but  it cannot give in to that energy there
  has to be a reasonable tension there
so  that was number three number four is
boy  if you look at other fields like
  mechanical CAD or electrical cat or  biocad
now they have all these great
  toys they happen to be all
implemented  on computers computer-aided design
  simulators and now
fab you
think it up  save mechanically whatever
it is design  it
simulate it now we can build it build
  a flute so the idea here is
in every  place except computing is
this notion of  people moving
towards wanting to design  and wanting to ship
the design it's
in  computing that we are so far behind
  we're still more
than 80 percent of the  undergraduates at
UCLA a top 10 computer  science
department use by terminal  emulators
which itself was emulating  decks
of punched cards doing
the same  kind of compilation
loading and linking  in
say C++ that's
their main language  there as was done
50 years ago this does  not
scale and yet this is what computer  people are doing they
don't have  anything like what more sensible
in these other fields are using  computers for so
if you take these two  things together take perlis
and this
  notion is a programming
system yeah part  of it is the functionality part
that's  what you see in most
systems for let's  everybody code
it's got a
  most of them got numbers
maybe they got  a raise they got assignment
statements  all the usual suspects
there that's not  even close
that is not what the put in  front of people
what you need is
an  environment an environment is it's about  systems
it's a bit about design it's  about media programming
language is a  user interface as
much as it is any  other thing why have
multiple ones  they're altering equivalent
so what's  the difference well at one end it's
some  of them run faster than others another
  part you might have to write
less code but another part is they  should be something
that you think in  terms of and they're the
idea of a user  interface and giving you
ways of  thinking about things starts dominating
  okay last of the five ideas to
get  started here is this notion of
  thresholds this is critical
and I think  this is an interesting
thing that in  science and engineering
this is  something that is understood
in a way  but it's rarely
talked about and in most
educational situations it's not  understood
and thus rarely talked about  and
it's this idea
progress wiggly  line
them in the paper all the time  could be reading
scores yay
ooh yay  boo
yeah meaningless
absolutely and  completely meaningless same with the
stock market no matter what happens in  the stock market there's
some  rationalization for it even if it's just  looking
at random noise
think about what  thinking is thinking
is not being  logical
thinking is choosing
environment that you're going to think  in before
you start rationalizing  so
let's put a threshold in
so my  threshold name is what is
actually  needed and here we
can see that this guy  and this
guy are irrelevant this guy is  really
relevant we got past the  threshold now we're
something before we were just  bullshitting around
yay we don't care
  the fluctuations here are things
we're really interested in because we're  guiding
this growth process now
for most  things in
human society we've got this
  the threshold is up here and
now none of  this actually means any this is
like  reading take reading
doesn't matter  where it's going up or down because
it's  all below threshold the children aren't  really
learning to read fluently enough  in so you're always getting a  qualitative
gap you're basically in this  zone
I call the pink zone doesn't
matter  most
people don't care about it and
the  idea of thresholds are actually fought
  because a threshold will reveal
  something is actually
wrong now
reforms  or impulses
often happen down here  here's
huge amount of effort
fizzle  yay wonk
completely irrelevant
and can  be in any area it
could be an education  you see it all time how about the  moonshot
hey we made it to the moon so
what we set back space travel more than  50 years
why because the
physics the  chemistry and the mathematics
of space  travel are that it just
with chemical rocketry  it's
about MV equals MV you're  exchanging momentum
chemical processes  cannot
get the velocity
  of the particles you're letting out to
  be high enough to actually give
you  that's why the Saturn rocket is 45
stories literally have you ever seen one  up close  Kate
calves Romy Canaveral Museum in  Florida don't
miss it they have one  sideways so
this is a forty five story  building hung sideways
that is one and a  half football feels
and it is all high  explosive
except for the little end part  where there are three people
if you want  a visual
explanation of the physics of
  chemical rocketry no you cannot
do space  travel that way and
this whole thing was
  a huge effort but it was aimed at the  wrong place
so you actually set up a  bunch of
technologies that now had to be  exploited further and you still
get anywhere and you still don't get  anywhere and now everybody's
lost their  taste for it
the web I'm not going
to my  diatribe about the web but web browsers
everybody uses it every day it's like  one of the worst ideas
ever ever
it only  does a few things compared
to what it  should be doing and this is hard
explain the people you heart it's hard  to find people who actually
are willing  to criticize the whip but
you know why  so well gee you can't it
was done on a  machine that already had WYSIWYG editing
  after 20 years why doesn't it still have  wood why
doesn't have WYSIWYG editing  well they're getting to it
no he took a  couple of years to do
WYSIWYG editing in  the first place so
what we've got there  is the ultimate Esau's
cup of soup if  you know that story from the Bible Esau
  came home from a hunt he was the big  hairy
he-man brother the little brother  jacob
was cooking some soup and he saw  said
brother i'm hungry  can i have some soup and
jacob said yes  for your birthright and
he saw i said  okay
that's humans 101 that
is what  behavioral economics is all about
  we are willing to sell a lot
for  momentary convenience so
here are two  words better and perfect do
we need to  really pay heat this is
the more  dangerous one better and perfect are
the  two enemies of what is actually needed  right
perfect as
I was talking to Mike  earlier
I hope to get to this slide  because he did something that
is really  cool I'm gonna show you the the
abstraction of it and I hope we get to  what it actually is
no better
disaster  this is where incremental
progress comes  from we need qualitative
progress so
you  need to get there
it's the lowest thing  that is
above the threshold this is the
secret you know this is something they  don't teach you in design
school but  it's something it's really important to
understand if you wanted if you want to  invent something
that is gonna generate  say 30 trillion bucks
like twenty four  of us
at Xerox PARC this is how you do
  it you have to find this thing and
I  call this
the McCready sweet spot Paul
MacCready was the guy who did  man-powered flight after 50
years of  really good people failing at it he did
it in six months from the time he  decided to
do it I will not use the time  to tell that
story but maybe in the  question and answer because it's a great  story
but this guy more
than any other  person I ever knew and he
wouldn't budge  until he found this so
you can think of  this as the
primary part of making  progress is
problem finding problem fine  forget
about problem solving you're  probably in the wrong context
you're  already in a place
where your sense of  problems is probably completely wrong
so like the premise of this whole  meeting is probably completely wrong
  start there probably completely
but it's  good because you got the people here but
just start off with the idea it's  probably come  me wrong
what is actually needed and  what is
that and
here's something the  thunders hate
like if this is Xerox PARC
  this was the
ARPA community for 10 years
  Xerox PARC has held up as some
  miraculous Oasis and that that wasn't
  true at all we were just an outgrowth of  this
much larger community that in fact
hought up most of the ideas the  philosophies and
we were just recent
  PhDs I was the oldest person there I was
  30 Butler Lampson was 27 the
guy who was  set it up Bob Taylor was 38
there was  all this money
that went into inventing  computer
graphics and artificial  intelligence and the programming
  language Lisp and just every
kind of  thing there and
when we went to park  what we looked at is what is this
for  this ARPA
and once you get there
  you get a whole region now you can
operate it because it's not just getting  to a point
you're actually getting to a  place with
a different set of ideas and  all of
a sudden you're definitely above  what is
actually needed and for a while  you
can actually make real progress not
  fake progress
and basically you think of  as taking our normal
pink brains and  adding a point
of view an  epistemological stance a way
of looking  at things that was different that makes
  our week mental
operations much much  more powerful I mean my slogan
for that  is point of view is worth 80 IQ points
  it's the number one thing that you want  to do
because we're terrible at thinking  and weak context
don't forget that  when you're thinking about things this  afternoon
  and we probably don't have any
funders  in the room but I like to point out
hem that no invention has been more  practical than
science I also
the business business is always saying  well we're in business to
make money I  said no you aren't really you're only  trying
to make millions and billions
cience has created trillions
trillions  and trillions of dollars off
almost no  investment
get your head on straight  invest
the right way ok
so let's quickly  take
a look at a couple of these clothes  here we take
a look at these any  questions so far on this
claim this is  not a rant because
I'm happy to justify  anything that I've said
but I'm because  this is an oral talk I'm
short  circuiting and just making it as claims
  but I'm sure you'll trust what
I'm  saying here so take
these four areas  let's take a look
at jobs
coding for  jobs so I got
my friend Vishal here and  I happened
to know him very well I think  we've
known each other for years right  so
so I'm gonna put I'm gonna
put  something into his mouth and let's see  what
he says Vishal my
my screen Vishal  says I don't want my
folks cold the code  the old bad ways I want them
to know how  to design and think is that reasonable
  100 percent right CEO of
a company that  has a hundred and eighty thousand people  and
it depends on programming
the  problem is teaching people
to code in  the way most of this is being done it's  not
going to get you there it's just  dicking around underneath
the threshold  so for
even going to worry about jobs  for three nanoseconds
we need something  qualitatively different let's
take a  look at next generation
there's so many  things we could say here but one is
we  have decided
in our society we're going  to teach reading and writing to every  child regardless
of whether they want to  or not right
it is not their choice so  this
violates Einstein who said love
is  a better teacher than duty I
happen to  agree with this idea
because I think  it's the duty of
this society to do  something about
instilling the strongest  parts of
the culture in the next  generation and so we're just taking
that  even though in many ways it's going
to  be problematic Thoreau has said without  books
history is silent literature dumb  science
crippled thought and speculation  at a standstill
we're just doing it
high school
is way too late I don't even  know why you're bothering with it here
this does I
mean it's okay if you  got spare time
but if you're gonna take  a subject
seriously like reading and  writing
like thinking
and whatever the
part that computing might have to play  and thinking
in the future and I think  it's a big part I'm
going to take it  serious forget about high school
we're  talking about something that
has to be  begin early
and this
has been a tough  sell because the way America
looks at it  we have jobs problems and if we
them you know we can get  no
that's disaster that's like  quarter-to-quarter
thinking done on a  national scale it
is just bad so
we have  to think earlier now if
you have good  thoughts for children
an interesting  thing is that those are not
pet for  tossing
into high school as long as you  don't take them too seriously  like
the user-interface that everybody  uses it today
the GUI that was my  invention and I originally
for children and I designed it that way  because
we had far more important things  that we wanted them to learn that
interface is not a good user interface  for adults
but in fact it's the
one that  adults wound up using because we
made it  easier for children to learn same thing
the iPad the iPad is good for two year  olds and ninety two
in between  it's
a terrible user interface and  hardly anybody knows it
  think about it and Apple finally  realized
oh maybe we should put
ools in there like maybe a pencil maybe  a keyboard
reminds me of a idea
from the  60s they'll
get there eventually okay
so  the relationship
here with what vishal  wants
we have to take a bit of a long  view it's not I
mean K through 12 is 13  years how long
is how long does it take  to even get going how long does it take
  to deploy that's what
we have to be  thinking about
five years from now  today's
kindergartners will be in fifth  grade and we know a lot about
what to do  with fifth graders and we know a bit
  about what to do with younger children  the
logistics are enormous for
doing any  kind of deployment we'll
talk about that  on a bit
biggest barrier for children
  all the adults around them
this happens to be a
it's a  parliament in a country
we regard as  eminently civilized
this on this  particular day
they lost it and it  wasn't the only time
but that's not  that's
just the symptom the
problem is  because
adults are trying to  recapitulate the children
into  themselves if they aren't
at the  tippy-top of the of
the century that  they're living in they're recapitulating
  children into the past this is
the Montessori pointed out in her first  book she said
the biggest problem  she
said children are driven by nature  to
learn the environment around them  they don't know where they're being born
into by the way she was the one of the  top three people
in anthropology in in
at this
urged today digress and  this is a good story  so
Montessori undergraduate degree was  in
engineering that's
what she wanted to  get a PhD in they wouldn't let her
this  is 19th century Italy and
so she put up  a fuss and finally
the University of  Rome said they'd admit her for a medical
degree if she could pass this test they  were sure she couldn't
pass but think  about Maria Montessori she was just much
  much smarter than any of us in this room  she
was a first-class intellect she aced
this test and became the first woman  physician
in Italy and
not having had a  calling for it she decided
medicine and it was through the slum  medicine that she
saw the children she  started picking up ideas for them
eanwhile she was studying anthropology  and the
number one principle she had is  children
don't know what society they're  being born
into and yet they learn it  therefore
we need to set up the society  we
want them to acclimate to and
if we  can't do it in home then we should you
make  Google embody the idea it's not a  question of
telling the children about  the century
question of putting them in this entry  instead
of living land this is an idea  that Seymour Papert use
very strong in  his metaphor for math land
want to go  learn French go to France want
to go  learn math go to a math land except
we  don't have a math land make what
is a big idea and I think this is the  number one thing
that should be thought  about if we're doing design this  afternoon
is this idea of hey what
children were brought up in the future  there are some interesting
there  was an extended Montessori
effort done  by the
British between the two world
wars called the British infant school  system anybody here
ever hear of that  yeah so
this is so basically the  reasoning there was we created
the  stewards of the British Empire
in the  boarding schools Eton
and Harrow we took  the children away from this plate
of  Plato's Republic 101 right take the  children
away from their parents train  them make them
into the kind of Brits
  the official Brit that's the job of
Eton  and Harrow we'll create all
these  administrators and the Reformers
in the  20s said yeah that's a really good
idea  we can't build
such schools for the  working class
but what we can do is take  the children away from their parents for
all of their waking hours this is the  British infant school
system they fed  them children were in these schools
for  about 12 hours a day and what
they did  was to extend Montessori ideas in
very powerful ways so if you're  interested in this
way of see
everybody  gets that
this is one of the ways you  get people to want what they need
right  because
we don't think about whether we  want to learn our culture
  we just learn
it nobody
tells we're in  this thing it's
Jobs this  is
his big brother photograph from 1984
everybody should learn how to code it  teaches you how to think
well teaching  you how to think badly
this is I mean
  Steve didn't even code so
yeah no idea
what he was taught this is just complete  bullshit
just empirically if you  look at
where maybe
anecdotally but it'd be great to do you  know just look
at the last 300
computer  people you looked at and
maybe  encountered on the internet or
and there's no evidence that they can  think at all
they can do a few little  things but in fact
they don't even know  what thinking is because thinking
is not  actually
logic that
was the mistake that  the Greeks made and that was the mistake
  that st. Thomas Aquinas made was the  major
mistake of Middle Ages it was also  the major mistake
of post-modernism that  isn't what it is
programming but it's for different  bigger more
important reasons
but don't  don't be led astray just because
guy was successful in the pop culture I  knew
him very well Steve and I were  friends to the extent that he
could have  a friend I was the guy
who set up the  Pixar deal for him besides having
a fair  amount to do with the Mac
very well  he's
one of the great salesmen of all  times
okay so
  citizenship so
the simple one here I  think is just
basically the  path the ultimate powers reside
people if we think them not alight did  not let's not take it away
from them but  you better inform their discretion  through
education period that is why  public education is set
up in this  country I'm not going to be labor at  this point
but you could hardly find  that this is the fact when
you go to any  school they
teach dates here and there  but I've
never found a public school  that actually teaches the children
how  the country works what was the
whole  point of setting it up that particular  way
and why has it worked as well as it  has
so the question here
is we have to  ask what is enlightened enough mean for  this
century what does that mean
now I'm  just pointing this out because if we  don't
take care of things like this it's  moot
whether children learn how to  program regardless of
whether it's we  have perfect participation by every
ethnic group and every gender and every  it's
this moot we have to take
care of  the larger ideas and education
  okay so richness so
is a diagram I  like that we
have the systems of the  natural world we have the social systems  we
have technological systems and we  have ourselves as many
systems and  richness
for most people comes out of  different aspects of
this we could also  turn it around and
going to do an education for the 21st  century it
is precisely this that we  should
look at and by the way there's an  underlying unifying
way of thinking  about things and that
is as terms of  systems these things are abstractly
similar as systems even though they  ramify
in many different ways  that could be a different way
of getting  rid of the stovepiping
that education is  mired in
right now okay so we need to
deal with the ineffable and so this  whole passel
of things  is kind of a minimum
set I could come up  with it would fit into 10 or
15 minutes  as part of this talk that
needs to be  kind of thought about when you're trying  to think
about something you want every  child to learn
and maybe you start with  the children go
to richness come back on  citizenship maybe
you start with  richness go to the children come over
to  citizenship in all cases jobs
winds up  being the last thing because
jobs come  primarily out of
having wealth to do  something
with and wealth here I mean is  the potential
wealth is like having  energy resources
wealth is like  inventing personal computing
and then in  the internet these are the potential for
doing things those are the things that  have to be invented
okay so mr. Spock  here  is
always shocked when anybody
pays any  attention to human beings especially
  technical people so
here's a couple of  ideas simple
metaphor from the 19th  century about human
memory it's like an  erosion gully water
comes down in some  random place if it gets
that channel is a little more efficient  pretty
soon you've got one of these and  then pretty soon you've got the
Grand  Canyon is an erosion gully if
you've  ever been there it's a hell of a one and  in
fact when you're in here
it's hard to  even imagine that you could
get out I  suppose you were born in there
you might  not even know that this is sort
of  pinkish it's the only color there
is so  this is a way of thinking
context that we like to call reality  we're
just in an erosion gully the  reason
we fight everybody else in the  world is they're in a different inner  ocean gully
none of these things are  real they're
all made up of stories and  beliefs
so here's a thing that's fun if
we had time we could do a few more of  them but
quarters  I like
whole one so it's twice  as far away as
the other and on a retina
  as they
cart found out the cart found  out
by getting an ox eye and peeling the  back off and that great
the ox was dead  but
he was curious as to whether a  biological lens
worked like a glass one  and it did
so the one that's twice as  far away comes
out half the size we  can't see it that
way because we've got  this pachinko
machine called the brain  the
processes that the brain give rise  to some of them
we can call our beliefs  this big pink thing it's like the
Grand  Canyon and we've got a real-time
version  of it called the waking dream and
as our  neuro folks here will say
yeah the  difference between the waking dream and  the sleeping
dream has a lot to do with  just being
able to check out references  every
few seconds right isolation tanks  are
making a comeback if you have never  tried
one this is a thing from the 60s  you put
on a wetsuit you're in a blood  temperature
high saline bath plugged
  ears plugged eyes you can't feel a thing  you
can't hear a thing about ten
minutes  you start going on an LSD trip except  you don't need
any LSD because
the  references that
are normally used here  to keep this waking dream were less on
  track are no longer there and you start  generating
even while you're awake  everybody should do this
so what happens  with the quarters
is we believe that  they
are the same size and the
combination of that with what we get  from our retina
interestingly enough our  retina doesn't
win our beliefs Trump the  thing and
the further away guys about  80% to size subjectively
this is called  size constancy
  it's one of many many illusions
how to the extent that we are  disconnected
  actually from what our senses
McLuhan  said until I believe it I can't
see it  that's a good one
and Vishal's
favors we  cannot learn to see until we admit we  are blind
that's what happened when we  invented science
that was the first time  the human race really admitted that
it's  common sense ways of dealing with the  world
as what it seems were not valid
so  you have to do some work to get
his so here's something it happened  right outside my hotel
room in May there
  was a guy with a hammer and
you'd attack
some people the day before  further
south this is like 8th Avenue
  and 43rd Street and
here's what people  who
saw this attacked said oh mrs.  O'Grady
said he was in flight when he
was shot he looked like he was trying to  get away from the officers we've
heard  that recently and other incidents
  khalsa said and I'm sorry maybe I'm  crazy but
I saw a man who is handcuffed  being shot
so this is seconds
after this  incident now fortunately
I heard the  shots I was
in my hotel room fortunately
  they had a camera surveillance camera so  here's
what the surveillance camera take  a look at the upper right hand corner
there's the
guy chasing the female cop  there's
the male cop shooting him wasn't
  handcuffed he wasn't running away wasn't
doing any of the things the eyewitnesses  saw a few seconds
ago they couldn't see
  what was on their retina
ever get  in court don't ever go to a jury
trial  don't ever do anything that
relies on  witnesses
because the you know the  prosecutors have no
idea of any of this  stuff they just want to convict
good as  you know we're here today to honor
mrs.  flexor who you all know as your
first-grade teacher  she'll be here in just a minute
that look
what does that look  yeah
that's okay she's frightened out of  her mind that
is the number one I just
got this off the internet there are  zillions of surprise party
have been caught so this is a gold mine  if you're
interested in
people have done  so the Internet
has captured enough of  these some people have died of heart  attacks
from a surprise party
a couple
  of minutes later a release
in tears a  couple of minutes later
and her report
on this is this was the happiest day of  her life despite
the fact that she had  been almost frightened out of her
wits  so
Daniel Kahneman would call this first
  reaction the fast reaction system one  and
he called system one it's said well  it's not really
a system it's this is an  expository fiction this
is putting  together a lot of complicated
things  into one gloss
on fast reactions
things  reactions are not
what we would call  thoughtful reactions they
are more like  reflexes now
notice that misses call  misses flexor here
knew everything about  surprise parties
why was she surprised  well
seven plus or minus two she
about it but it wasn't in her current  context
her thinking thing
condiment  system two took
a while and figured out  everything safe
now we should ask you
  so besides adrenaline whatever else
happens when you get one of these  surprise reactions
what so
many things  like dopamine and serotonin
why well if  you have to
fight you don't want to feel  any pain
so what happens is your brain  dopes your
entire body up so you cannot  feel pain when
you're in a survival  situation and
guess what happens when  she didn't have to fight
  she was completely alert and coped
to  the gills on her own dope
have to  understand this stuff
so here's
an old  book that's still good it has about 40  different ways
of looking at the mind I  put
that up there just so you realize  that there are dozens
of perspectives  here they're not all the
last word some  of them are compatible with each
other  look at these kids
  these kids did
not get on this roller  coaster expecting to die
nobody does
and  yet and
they're presumably very happy at  the end
piccaboo works over and over
and  over again and the reason is is that  system
one can't be talked out of it  so one
a test that you do go next to a  door and
you watch me I'll slam that  door and
you'll get this even though you  you
know every single thing about it  doesn't matter
so it's important to  realize
that there is a heck of a lot of  mechanism
in there that deals with real  time reactions
to things and the  important
thing here is to understand  that this fast
guy is also dealing
with  what you might call the atoms of
thought  for the slow thinking
I'll just let that  idea sit
for a second learning
you got your turn signal on all
everybody remember that
you can't  your parent
is trying to give you if I  can't hear what they're saying
stop  signs over here you can
barely see  what's going so if you tried to drive  with
system two you're gonna
miss most  everything what happens is you
start  training these real-time you
get real  trying modules that get trained at being  able to do
all of these things and no  for a musical instrument might
take a  couple of years McCarthy pointed out
programming is somewhere between  learning to
drive and flying a plane
so  whenever we set
up something it's not  always just
a cognitive thing this is  one of the problems of some
approaches we took in the past as we  would tend
to say hey the drill and  practice thing is a
bad well it is a bad  idea that is not the way to get
the  repetitions the train system won but
the  thing is the cognitive approach actually  gives you something
that is much more  like this
driving situation and it's not  enough context
to do the kinds of  thinking that you need this implies
that  the pedagogy and the approach is
going  to be very very different that
somehow  you have to do the atoms
of thinking in  any thoughtful
thing without losing the  larger context
so music you get it by  having the
children play really great  music and you're willing to
sacrifice  everything else in order to get that
happen but you have to stay on it long  and I used to teach
guitar you have to  stay on it long
enough so that they  actually start developing the system one
that can handle all the real-time  demands
okay there are zillions of these  I
just went on the internet I found 20
on the internet but then it wound up  adding some
more these are all biases  that have been found well
known  you can think
of many of them are  aspects of this Grand Canyon
idea  many
of them are seven plus
or minus two  here's one that I wasn't
internet thing but it's something we  should look at here
thing we do all the  time is perfect reasoning
from wrong  premises because if we're in the
wrong  context and we reason brilliantly we're  not going
to get anywhere the Greeks  were graded the st. Thomas Aquinas was  great
at it didn't get anywhere because  the context
was wrong so
rationalization  rationalizing
rational thought all of  these things are secondary to
something  stronger looking
for the lamppost for  the lost keys that's
a version of Esau  on the cup
of soup giving up something  really important for convenience
like  finding the keys linear
scaling well  hardly anything
that's interesting is  linear and
so we can't give in to our  nervous system I'm looking
at scaling  and this has been really disastrous in  programming
because programming is  taught as though the program's
don't  turn into systems and the systems
turn into something large and so there  isn't an internet
and so forth this is  getting
completely miss taking simple  chemistry
for biology they're just not  in
the same ballpark so
Francis Bacon so
here's the row again one of the  advantages of reading a lot is
hardly  any
of us certainly me all
my ideas are  derivative
just because I've read  thousands
of books I didn't have to  puzzle this out
because bacon wrote a  book called the
Novum organum in 1620  where
he said hey look  our brains are messed up we
have bad  brains he called the
ways of messing up  idols so
we have we get serious errors  because of our genetics
we get serious  errors because of the culture we're in  we
get serious errors because of the  languages we use they don't
represent  what's actually out there we get serious
  it errors from the way academia hangs on
to bad ideas and teaches them over again  these are his four
idols anybody ever  read bacon he
said we need something to
  get around our bad brains a set of
heuristics is the term we'd used today  and
he called for was what he  called for science because
that's what  Novum organum the rest of the title
was  a new way of
dealing with knowledge
and  science
is not the knowledge right  because
the knowledge is is in this  context
what science is is the  negotiation
between what's out there and  what we can represent
this is the big  idea this is the idea
in school this is the idea we should be  teaching it's
one of the biggest ideas  of all time it
isn't the knowledge it's  the relationship because what's
out  there is only knowable
by phenomena that  is being filtered in
every possible way  and we
don't know whether our brain is  even capable of representing
the stuff  and so to
think about science as the  truth is completely
wrong it's not the
  right way to look at it but if you think  about
is the negotiation between the  best
you can do right now and stuff  that's out there that where
completely sure you're in a very strong  position
science has been the most  powerful
thought system
human beings  have ever invented because
it gave up  the idea of truth and it
substituted for  a thousand variations
of false some of  which are incredibly
powerful  right this is the big
idea so we're  gonna think about computing
this is one  way and I've
Seymour Papert thought  about it in a different way but
this is  one way of thinking about
Wow computers  they are representatives
about representations  can simulate
ideas we get a very good  much better
sense of dealing
with  thinking about these complexities okay
maybe one I think we're
one last
part  of this pep talk and then I'll turn it  over to V
Shaw so let's go back to the  pink plane
here and
let's see we're at a  place
on the pink plane and we have a  goal so we're
we're at a we
only are  looking in that direction because that's
where we're going we see B we say let's  plot a course
to B but guess what
the  world is nonlinear so we're really in  that
because we didn't think about all  the dimensions okay
so we can explore we
  can tinker away around it that's better  if
that was good we can engineer a  superhighway and if
we're really  adventurous we can invent the airplane
  forget about land travel let's just fly  over
that mountain and here's the big  idea once we decide
to take off from  land travel
we not only are in
a  different world we're not we
discover  we're in a blue world and the blue world  has
a much better destination than than  B
so I've submit this as a metaphor that  can
be used in many different areas
like  simple one often
you have to go away  from your goal to get to you go
that is  a toughy remember we're
primates the way  they catch monkeys in Burma
everybody  know this Oh everybody
should know this  okay so
monkeys are primates like us and  what they do is they
they just fasten  jars and
they put a big nut
  the monkeys reach in to get that nut
  they can't get
there aren't handout okay
now  that monkey could
escape anytime by just  letting go of this nut but
hey don't let goes and nothing that  sound
like any human activity you've  ever heard they
can't let go than that  so
in the morning they just
come around  and so that I like monkey brains and  Burma
so they come around just collect  these monkeys
that could get away  anytime they wanted that
isn't us I  don't know what it is
  so being able to go away from
the goal  this is a heart like NSF
is completely  blown it in computing
because they've  given up on problem finding in
doing  stuff that really doesn't have a goal
in  the proposal for example goal
should be  to find the goal somebody needs
to pay  for that the
engineering as a refinement  of something
that's more like tinkling  or bricolage see more used to kala
then  this idea that hey maybe surface
travel  isn't the deal at all let's do
something  qualitatively different and start flying
  and once you've made that effort
to  qualitatively change
suddenly you have  the possibility of scaping from this  whole
context which was actually holding  you back ok
I'll leave you with that  thank you very much for listening