The Ideal Programming Environment for Children -- Some Big Questions

On February 15, 2005, together with Carol Strohecker, I had dinner with Seymour Papert. We discussed ideas relating to the ideal programming language for children. While many very interesting topics came up, a few questions were raised that I want to comment on here:

  1. Should the design be driven primarily by the aesthetics of computer scientists or mathematicians?

  2. Clearly much is gained by making computational abstractions concrete as ToonTalk does, but what is lost?

  3. What are the ultimate goals?

  4. Is the answer a single language or multiple languages?

About six months later I added the following topics:

  1. Where should program construction take place?

  2. Where does turtle geometry fit into the picture? An instance of the choice between message passing and user interfaces?

  3. What about concurrent and distributed computation?

  4. What should the ideal programming language (or languages) be like?

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