[Sugar-devel] versus, not
walter.bender at gmail.com
Fri May 8 09:25:35 EDT 2009
One of the real pleasures of this adventure we are on is that there
has been thoughtful criticism of ideas. I cannot get away with vague
or sloppy thinking.
On Fri, May 8, 2009 at 4:37 AM, Bill Kerr <billkerr at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm not sure what is meant by a "big tent"
> Why do some people want a big tent for learning theory but not a big tent
> which accepts both FOSS and proprietary software? Phrasing it that way is
> intended to encourage people to think about what sort of thing is learning
> and hopefully will not be interpreted as just being provocative for its own
FOSS is a theory of learning. We don't need to reach consensus about
either learning theory or FOSS, but to be members of this community,
we must agree that we can progress from critique to making positive
> you can have a big tent where people don't discuss learning theory because
> it's too hard to reach agreement
> you can have a big tent where people passionately argue about learning
> theory but actually listen to what each is saying and argue rationally
> when I look at minsky's theory of mind I see that he supports multiple
> models of thinking but also argues against models of thinking that he thinks
> are incorrect or which emphasise only one way of doing things, eg. although
> he helped create connectionism he now thinks it has too much influence
As Martin points out, Sugar Labs is building tools. But we are not
agnostic about how they are used. We are deliberately building
affordances into our tools to encourage and promote learning
activities that are "C" in their nature, because we believe that that
is the principle means by which learners will reach a level of fluency
as described by Alan. But the tools can be used in support of other
learning theories and, to rephrase Minsky, "if you don't learn
something more than one way, you don't learn it."
> that suggests another version of a big tent which I favour - cherry picking
> the best parts out of different learning theories / activities based on
> criteria (not stated here) that are substantial
I wear an engineer's hat: "What is the best solution I can build
today?" not a scientist's hat: "What is the best possible solution?"
Ergo, +1 for cherry picking.
> I don't believe that thinking people are agnostic about how people learn
> it seems to me that alan kay has presented a possibly strategic view of
> progress on these questions (that learning about bricks will not
> automatically lead to building arches, that we need more than just focusing
> on building blocks) - but that for various reasons we are not in a position
> to implement the learning materials based on that view in practice in the
> for me to sit in the big tent holding a strategic view feels different to
> "too hard basket", agnosticism or a tower of babble - teaching with an
> underlying strategic view is very different to just going along with the
The analogy to "big tent" perhaps needs more of an explanation for
those not living day-to-day in earshot of the US political dialog.
Republican President Ronald Reagan referred to his party as a big tent
in the days of his popular majority. The current party is being
accused of (or admired for) being more fundamentalist in its ideology;
this "either your are with us or against us" approach has arguably
resulted in a greatly contracted constituency: there are more people
who identify themselves as Independents than as Republicans. As a
result, it is being asserted both from within and without that the
Republicans have excluded themselves from the debate.
We must engage teachers and learners even if we do not have consensus
on all aspects of learning theories, FOSS, or Sugar. Without the
engagement, we don't grow. Even more important, without the
engagement, we don't learn. That doesn't mean we don't have opinions
> that would mean work to understand and implement that strategic view but
> also accept that we are not there yet (it will take some time) and so it is
> perfectably understandable and desirable that people will use and develop
> whatever is at hand or which they think important to develop - no one can
> stop that anyway accept by successful arguing someone out of a POV
We have a long ways to go and we need to keep debating as we go. But
also we need to continue "doing". And always be asking "Are there
other ways to approach this?" and "How might we make this better?"
> Does the "big tent" phrase add clarity to this conversation?
Perhaps not. But the discussion adds clarity to the overall mission of
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