Self-Learning Poem

我相信通过之前的文章,大家已经建立起这个意识,即自学或者说自主学习才是真正的学习,是每个人与生俱来的学习能力。但大家可能在操作层面还不太有把握应该怎样在平时的学习中去做,毕竟学校上课方式的学习已经带给我们很多很坏的学习习惯。以下简单的在操作层面谈一谈如何开始自主学习。

当然,首先的,是选定一个比较大的自己特别想要去学习的领域,比如我大学时候学习中国古代茶文化。具体定多大的范围看自己,我建议是以自己的能力,尽量稍大一些来选。

然后下面我分享一个自主学习口诀,给大家在实操方面更多的概念。

简版:

每天只有三件事可做
玩,学习,和创造
要有智慧的玩
有创意的玩
要创造自己的作品
我们都是自学者
我们从婴儿时候开始就一直在自学
学会了世界上最难的语言
我们要继续自学的方式
在玩中学习
在实践中学习
多动手多读多思善于总结
什么书都可以看
只要对自己有用
如果一本书看不懂就看两本书三本书
如果一遍看不懂就看两遍三遍
部分看不懂不要紧看现在能看懂的
看现在需要看的
永远以自己最快的速度最好的学习
速度快了就自己放慢速度
经常去书店海看
熟悉互联网资源的各种用法
学会寻找可靠信息
学会鉴别真实获得真实
不断创造
最好的玩
享受人生的快乐

完整版:

每天只有三件事可以做
玩,学习,创造
要有智慧的玩
有创意的玩
要创造自己的作品
相信用我们的作品说话
用作品去交流
在作品中合作和相互学习
虽然每个人的思维方式不同
但每个人都很聪明
大家在一起
可以分享彼此的思维方法和经验
我们都是自学者
我们从婴儿时候开始就一直在自学
学会了世界上最难的语言
我们要继续自学的方式
在玩中学习
如果一本书看不懂就看两本书三本书
如果一遍看不懂就看两遍三遍
部分看不懂不要紧看现在能看懂的
看现在需要看的
速度快了就自己放慢速度
熟悉各种资源为我所用
善用资源不同资源有不同的用处
发现了自己感兴趣的大师
立即对大师所有的作品进行全面的吸收
经常去书店海看
熟悉互联网资源的各种用法
学会鉴别真实获得真实
知识是流动的广泛相连的
要学会抓取各种活动中的知识
并聚流成整体
有的需要短时间大量投入去突破
有的需要长时间逐渐的积累
有了好的资源的时候
或者有了突然的整体理解的时候
迅速投入大量时间
达到整体的飞跃
珍惜每次成长的机会
不时反思自己的体验
感知自己的成长
不断尝试去获得更好的整体的理解
不断去想象自己能够达到的新的境界
不断创造
最好的玩
享受人生的快乐


图:海看3D动画编程

一些图来自https://unsplash.com/

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Paracraft, Software Education 3.0

关键词:

Paracraft,编程教育,青少年编程教育,Logo小海龟编程语言,Scratch,终身幼儿园,Alan Kay,皮亚杰,建构主义教育,克里斯多夫亚历山大,生命中心,探索式学习,抽象建模,复杂系统,空间感知,空间思维,理解,创造,艺术与科技的交融,生命教育,生命发现,生命表达,走向未来的人工智能

简介

本文介绍编程教育的历史发展脉络,计算机软件先驱们对编程和编程教育的本质的思考,介绍Paracraft帕拉卡作为编程教育3.0的平台给编程教育带来的革命性改变,以及编程教育对教育的普遍意义,中国编程教育的现状和我们希望做出的改变。


注:本文行文高度浓缩,信息量很大,其中很多地方,一段话其实就是一篇文章。阅读时建议放慢速度,仔细体会前后句之间的逻辑。

编程教育

LOGO(小海龟)编程语言是编程教育的1.0,Seymour Papert发明的LOGO语言,承载了计算机先驱们关于编程教育的理念和期望。

图:Seymour Papert与LOGO语言

Scratch是编程教育的2.0,作为Seymour Papert的学生和思想的继承者,Mitch Resnick创造的Scratch以图形化编程的方式让编程对儿童更形象有趣,其提出的终身幼儿园让计算机先驱们关于编程教育的理念更容易为大众所理解。


图:Scratch创始人Mitch Resnick

Paracraft则是编程教育的3.0。Paracraft的3D动画编程通过空间的搭建和丰富好玩的作品的创造,让青少年们真正接触到编程的核心思维,真正做到了丰富的玩,丰富的学,学会高效的思考,高效的学习。

编程教育的意义:学会编程,学会学习!

从1.0到3.0,其一以贯之的核心思想都是“学会编程,学会学习!”。这里包含了两个层面的理解:
1. 软件编程是思想的工具,是通过编程去操作个人对世界的感知。
1. 编程与学习有高度一致性。

软件的先驱,Small Talk的作者Alan Kay认为编程是去操作个人对世界的感知。注意,这里Alan用了感知这个词,而不是思想。用感知这个词是非常准确的,说明Alan是把编程看作是根本的思考,而不是一般的思考。在编程里,基于对世界的感知而形成的抽象模型是思考的基础。


图:Small Talk作者,软件先驱Alan Kay

小海龟(LOGO)编程语言的作者Seymour Papert,与Alan Kay有很多的合作,也有着非常类似的理解。他认为计算机或者软件编程的核心力量来自于两个方面,其一是表达(representational capacity)世界的能力(在Paracraft教育里,我们把这个能力理解为建模的能力),其二是即时改变这种表达的能力(responsiveness )(在Paracraft教育里,我们理解为验证模型,获得反馈,并改变模型的能力,也就是debug的过程)。

由此,我们看到编程的的两个特征,一是编程一定是基于理解的,再就是编程一定是导向创造的

基于理解,是因为编程首先的就是要对某个领域进行抽象建模。抽象模型代表了我们对那个领域的理解。并且编程提供了做实验来验证这个理解或者说抽象模型的方式,可以快速获得反馈,形成更好的理解,进行改进。

另外,软件总是在创造的。软件创造的本质是对每一个新的领域进行数字化。数字化以后,就能够突破自然的物理局限,比如时空的局限,造成连接。所以新的软件总是带来根本的突破性的创新,让整个行业突然发生巨变。这就是为什么技术能够改变世界推动历史进步的背后的原因。比如我们看到的软件对商业的改变,对新闻的改变等等。这就是数字化进程。所以,我们看到今天软件无处不在,并且以更快的速度渗透到我们生活的方方面面,其实这背后在进行的就是数字化过程,其核心,这里再重复一遍,就是对更多的领域进行数字化建模,变成数字化的软件,人们可以通过软件去操作这些数字化模型,从而实现了人与人之间基于这些模型的连接与交互。

比如现在我们大家都熟悉的电商网站,各种商品被数字化,并且按照不同的类别展示在网站上,每个商品都有可以详细查看的细节,包括图片。还有其他客户的点评也被数字化并展示在相关商品下面。商家也被数字化,可以查看商家的其他商品,向商家咨询。自己购买下单的过程,被数字化成了订单,商家与买家通过订单进行各种交互,如退换货退款等等。买家下单后库存数减少。商家可以进货增加更多的商品。买家还可以查看自己所有的历史订单。这些是大家现在都已经很熟悉的电商网站。我们看到电商软件需要对商品买卖做数字化,这个数字化就是要对商品买卖有好的理解并且用模型表达出来,比如商家模型,买家模型,商品模型(如sku,名字,描述,库存等),订单模型等等。通过这些模型连接到各方的人,通过这些模型进行交互。

不光这些我们平常生活中比较熟悉的具体的实体可以被抽象建模,就是抽象的事物也可以被建模。比如电商订单里商家与买家间的交互,其中的退换货退款的申请和处理是相当复杂的过程。单看这些行为的结果,不过是改变订单的状态,也就是说改变订单这个抽象模型里的相关数值。一般来说对模型的值的改变,程序员都是直接封装成指令,但是因为这些交互非常复杂,并且这些交互的方式可能因为业务的更改而经常更改,由程序员直接写在代码里是很容易出错的,也不方便更新。面对这样的复杂性,虽然是抽象的对订单的交互行为,也可以进行抽象建模,用模型来规范和简化操作。

所以可以看到对于简单的系统,我们可以直接的用一些指令的顺序执行去完成,不太需要额外的抽象模型。但是对于复杂的系统,我们往往需要设计更多的抽象模型,这些抽象模型就成为新的生命中心,之前看似很复杂甚至杂乱无章的交互可以围绕这些生命中心来进行。因为这些生命中心的出现,如果用信息系统里熵的概念,可以说复杂的无序的系统变得更有序,实现了熵减,但我们更倾向于使用生命这个词,因为这并不是简单的一般人认为的“顺序”的有序。

在这里我们也可以看到面向复杂的系统,抽象模型是很好的处理复杂系统的方式。其实我们面对很多貌似复杂的问题时,空间思维,或者更核心的,空间感知,才是主要的我们解决问题的方法。所谓的逻辑思维只是空间感知后附带的部分,就好像编程里抽象模型建好后的各个指令(函数)内部的顺序逻辑一样。

软件编程里的KISS(Keep It Simple, Stupid!)原则,可以在这个基础上去理解。即当系统比较简单的时候,没有必要去额外的设计什么抽象模型,那会让软件没有必要的复杂。因为系统很简单,即使没有抽象模型作为交互的中心,人脑也可以直接快速的理解整个系统。或者有更好的简单的模型的时候,不要使用复杂的模型。

所以,可以看到,编程正是一种面向复杂系统非常高效的思维方式,这个思维方式是以抽象建模为核心的,也就是以空间感知能力为核心的。而人类对周边世界的“理解”,其实也就是抽象建模的过程。大脑以这些抽象模型为中心,得以进行高效的并行运算,做到现在最强大的计算机都无法做到的面对复杂系统的处理能力。所以,可以说,编程,和大脑的根本性思维一样,是和空间的交互。

这种以空间感知和抽象建模为核心的思维方式,是我们处理复杂系统的一切思维方式的基础,比如我们常说的复杂系统的诊断能力(debug,医生诊断疾病等),解决问题能力,独立思考能力,拆解与综合能力等等。

而通过这些抽象建模进行数字化,比如电商,突破了时空的物理局限,对购物这个领域带来了根本性的变革。而数字化的进程,就是不断的对人类社会的各个领域重复这个过程。这正是今天软件变得愈发的无处不在影响到我们生活的方方面面背后的原因。所以,也可以说,软件编程是在帮助我们更深入本质的理解这些不同的领域。

编程的这两个特征,理解与创造,正是学习的两大特征

学习正是要去理解周边的世界,其实也是一个抽象建模的过程,一个创造知识的过程,形成的抽象模型正是我们一般说的知识。而这个抽象模型是否正确,又需要不断的通过实践来检验和修正。所以高效的学习,正是大胆的提出对某个领域的理解的抽象模型,然后快速的去获得反馈快速的迭代改进。这个正是软件编程的过程!学习,也是与空间的交互。

这些软件先驱们对软件编程的本质理解的非常清楚,所以对编程教育具有的巨大的教育意义抱有极大的期望,他们认识到学习编程,是学习一种很核心的非常高效的思维方式,同时也是在学习如何高效的学习。这就是这些软件先驱们还有以皮亚杰为代表的的建构主义教育家们理解的编程教育的意义。


图:建构主义教育家皮亚杰

孩子们天生就非常擅长这样的通过实验去探索了解世界的过程。 皮亚杰在观察儿童们的学习几十年后,得出这样的结论。小海龟(LOGO)编程语言的作者Seymour Papert也认为孩子是天然的拥有这样的严肃的通过实验进行科学研究的能力的,就像那些顶尖的科学家一样,这个能力在大人看来是“玩耍”的过程。我相信你如果去仔细观察孩子们怎么学习的,或者是能回忆起自己年纪非常小的时候是怎么学习的,能有同样的结论。玩,从本质上看,往往是基于对空间的兴趣,是对空间的探索。在空间的探索中,孩子们构建对于周边世界的认识,并不断的通过“玩耍”这种实验的方式去验证和改进自己的认识。

确实在我们观察儿童们学习Paracraft的过程中,我们发现年纪越小的孩子越会做实验,去尝试某种方块的各种用法,搞清楚其所有属性。而大一些的孩子则习惯了问老师。更大一些的孩子不光是习惯了问老师,而且期待老师给直接的答案。当老师引导他们去自己寻找答案时,这些孩子还会有一些不高兴。年纪更大的成人则连问题都没有,他们只是期待老师上课,或者等着老师上完课后布置作业。

所以Mitch Resnick提出的终身幼儿园的理念,认为学校应该像幼儿园一样,孩子们都在搭建东西,创造东西,都在玩。我们则认为玩地比幼儿园更好玩。Paracraft是要建立玩地而不是幼儿园,让孩子真正的充分的玩起来。

编程教育1.0的诞生:LOGO小海龟编程

这些软件编程的先驱和教育家们对软件编程的理解,促成了Seymour Papert发明LOGO编程语言。所以我们可以认为LOGO是编程教育的1.0.

这是基于这些思想的对编程教育的第一次尝试,在那个时代,是巨大的进步,影响了很多的今天的优秀的程序员。

我在美国读书研究生院里做互联网教育研究时的一位同事,一家7个程序员,包括他们的父母和他们5兄弟。他听说我小时候学过LOGO编程,立即很兴奋,问我有什么体验。可惜我说不出来很多。只有第一印象,觉得这个学编程挺有意思的,有一点神奇,也能够感受到LOGO编程传递出来的那种数学的“力量”。但是,给我们上课的老师,按照上课的方式来教我们,而不是Papert所设想的让小孩自己去探索去玩的学习,所以并没有更多的深入,有更多的体验。只是感觉到新鲜有趣以后就戛然而止了。记得那个老师后面就跟我们讲些计算机科学的概念,什么变量,什么不同数据类型之类的,感觉就变得枯燥起来。那个老师也没有讲多少,简单的让我们能编几个计算类的小程序就完了,让我感觉自己的逻辑思维还不错,搞这个东西没什么难度,如此而已。是不是和今天的很多编程教育很像?

如果这位老师知道我们这些小孩是如何学打乒乓球,滑旱冰,游泳的,估计他就不会那样教了。我们就是一大群小孩好长时间大家就玩那个东西,乒乓球或者滑旱冰,都能深入进去,都能有相当丰富的体验。

所以虽然有LOGO这样的饱含了软件先驱和教育家们的理念创造的编程语言, 也能够引起孩子们刚上手时那种兴奋的感觉,但在这样的教学方式下,并没有起到软件先驱和教育家们所设想的教育的效果。这是不是很像今天的很多编程教育?那些拿着国外的Scratch,脱离Scratch的作者的教育理念,用上课,作业,考试来教编程的,能够写一点简单的代码就仿佛学好了编程一样,其实都脱离了Scratch背后的教育理念和相应的学习方式。我知道的不少小孩上这样的课学习编程后反而对编程产生了极度的排斥心理。

所以我们觉得仅仅是工具不够,还必须有配套的教育方式或者说学习方式

升级,2.0, Scratch

随着软件的愈发普及,师承自Seymour Papert的Mitch Resnick创造了Scratch。Scratch的主要贡献其一是让对儿童可能有一定难度的写代码的过程变成了更直观的指令搭建的过程,其二是青少年们可以通过编程去控制2D的动画世界,可以去创作很多孩子们喜欢的故事或者游戏。其三是Scratch的官方网站让青少年们可以在上面发布他们的作品,成为青少年分享交流作品的平台。Scratch倡导的终身幼儿园的理念也是对Seymour Papert, Alan Kay和皮亚杰的思想的一次较好的表达。

但是Scratch还远远没有达到软件先驱们对编程教育的构想和期望。

横空出世的Paracraft,编程教育的3.0

真正完美体现软件先驱和建构主义教育家的理念,能够承载他们对编程教育的巨大期望,让青少年通过学习编程,学会高效思考高效学习的,是Paracraft。我们认为这是编程教育的3.0时代。

首先,虽然软件的先驱们能够认识到编程是一种非常高效的思维方式和学习方式,但是他们还没能做到系统的理解与表述。本文前面大家看到的关于编程本质的表述,是Paracraft才做到的清晰的系统的表述。限于篇幅,我们在本文里也只能介绍性的讲一下。我们还有其他的更多的文章,可以让你做更全面系统深入的理解。

其次,Paracraft的3D世界和其中的作品创作,才是承载这些理念的最好的载体。相信Seymour Papert和Mitch Resnick看到Paracraft,也会大拍脑门:”这就是我想要的!” 下面我们分条详述为什么。

真正的让孩子们玩起来

对比于LOGO和Scratch,Paracraft真正的让孩子们玩起来了。孩子们面对Paracraft时的兴奋度,是LOGO和Scratch都远远无法比拟的。3岁以上的孩子就会对Paracraft非常兴奋,因为Paracraft让孩子们通过简单的方块的搭建,就可以创造出相当复杂的世界。这对于孩子有着无穷的魅力。熟悉儿童心理学的都知道,儿童面对大人的世界是感觉自己很渺小的,感觉自己的力量很小,世界太大。但是Paracraft给了他们搭建的力量,可以搭建出宏伟复杂的世界。我们都知道儿童是非常喜欢搭建,喜欢创作故事的。 Paracraft正是给了他们这样一个工具和舞台。虽然Scratch倡导终身幼儿园,但Paracraft才真正给了孩子们好玩的东西。


图:一个9岁孩子搭建的跑酷游戏

正是因为Paracraft给了孩子们真正好玩的东西,让孩子们可以丰富的玩,丰富的创造,学习在Paracraft里才回归到其最自然的状态,诸位软件先驱们和建构主义教育家们关于孩子们的玩其实是严肃的科学研究的理念才得到了充分的展现。


图:让孩子玩起来

只有让孩子们充分的玩起来了,孩子们与生俱来的那种核心的学习能力才能不断得到增强。并且编程,如前所述,其作为高效思考和高效学习方式的本质,在自然的玩的过程中,孩子们是能够有最充分的体验的,因为这些都是与空间的交互。

而传统的线性的上课学习的方式,其实是有悖于人类学习的特点的,也是与玩冲突的,和软件编程的基于空间的交互方式也是冲突的。所以儿童们学习编程最好的方式,应该就是玩。让他们玩起来!


图:让孩子玩起来

真实的工具,而不仅仅是玩具


图:工匠精神,最好的工具

软件先驱Alan Kay认为,孩子们用以学习的媒介,可以是真实的工具,而不仅仅是玩具。LOGO和Scratch基本上停留在玩具的阶段,完全无法用作现实世界的工具。Paracraft,不仅仅是比LOGO和Scratch更好玩,同时也是工业级别的创作工具,可以创造相当复杂和有挑战性的作品。Scratch作品,无法做到Paracraft的作品那样触动人心的程度。


图:可以创作真实作品的工具

所以,可以认为Paracraft是一个真实的环境,儿童们在里面创作真实的作品。真实,安全,好玩,易学,Paracraft是很理想的儿童教育的平台。


图:可以创作真实作品的工具

真正的作品,而不只是项目

用Scratch完成的只能是项目,很难说是作品。Paracraft创作的才是作品。

作品是教育环境里的一个关键因素。

首先,作品是个体的生命表达。个人把自己感受到的好玩的,能打动他人的东西通过自己的融合与创造表达出来,这是个体生命表达的过程。Scratch项目很难达到作品的程度,如前所述,其主要是玩具。


图:真正的作品

其次,我们通过他人的作品,来感知美的元素,感受他人的精神力量,汲取他人的精神养料。这些都可以认为是从他人的作品里汲取生命力量。


图:真正的作品

这些正是在背后驱使着儿童们去创作Paracraft作品的力量。所以说,在Paracraft里面,儿童才能真正的玩起来。

抓住编程的核心,围绕抽象建模,充分的空间思维能力培养

我们的编程学习,是非常清晰的系统的基于抽象模型的学习。并且Paracraft的场景搭建(包括模型搭建),动画电影,和游戏编程,都是在培养抽象建模的能力,是完整的编程学习。核心是空间的感知和思维能力。


图:学生使用Paracraft方块搭建的坦克Bmax模型

我们对编程是抽象建模有更清晰的认识,通过抽象建模和生命空间,我们把所有计算机科学的主题都很好的融合起来成为一个整体。而这些,与Paracraft的空间搭建正是一体的。


图:Paracraft里的建模

比如Alan Kay说,计算机或者软件的表达(representation)不光是存储在计算机里的各种抽象层面的表达,也包括了2D的表达。Alan Kay认为对一个程序员来说,会画画很重要,需要有2D表达的能力。

我们对此,基于抽象建模,有相似的认识,但会更系统和深入。我们认为抽象建模的表达,除了存储在计算机里的各种抽象层面的表达,和2D的表达外,还包括3D的表达,和文字的表达(我们可以把文字的表达看作1D的表达)。我们认为2D,3D的表达能力都是作为一个优秀的程序员需要的能力。因为一般的人是通过图形这种具体的形象来与模型进行交互的,然后这种交互导致存储在计算机里的抽象层面的模型表达的改变。就像我们前面讲的电商的例子一样,普通人是通过网页上的2D的各种菜单和按钮与模型进行交互的。而对抽象模型的文字表达能力,在软件设计中是很重要的能力。我们在Paracraft的编程教育里,其中重要的一个部分就是抽象建模的文字表达,并特意培养这个表达能力,比如我们对一个编程项目的思考和设计过程,就是依照抽象建模的方法进行的。而动画电影制作里的剧本写作,我们也是作为一个相关能力培养的。


图:使用Paracraft制作的动物Bmax模型

所以,你可以看到,因为我们对软件编程有着基于抽象建模的深入的理解,我们对编程所需要的各种能力都能在同一个框架里有机的融合起来,乃至于UI,交互设计,产品设计等方面在我们这里都是与编程思维是一体的。搭建,动画与编程就是对这些能力进行启蒙和全方面培养最好的方式。

对空间的感知能力,是抽象建模的基础,也是我们在搭建,动画与编程的各个方面都非常强调的能力。

Paracraft给了孩子们直观的建模能力的培养。 在3D世界的建造中,有大量的建模的机会。物品,角色,场景,都可以被建模并重复使用。比如,如果孩子们要搭建大型的中国古代宫殿,他们需要对斗拱,瓦当,瓦片,飞檐走兽以及古代的桌椅等大量重复使用的组件进行建模。如果他们做的比较好,做出一整套的中国古建筑的各种组件出来,其他人可以拿去很方便的搭建各种中国古建筑,我们就可以说这些孩子进行了非常好的抽象建模。

通过这些建模,孩子们能够形成对中国古建筑的很好的理解。这就是学习的过程。在让他们的组件更好玩,别人更方便拿去搭建各种中国古建筑的过程,是他们不断改进他们的Paracraft模型的过程,也是他们不断改进他们大脑中关于中国古建筑模型的过程。 比如他们也许会发现亭台楼阁和桥梁会有些不一样。如果他们的组件也可以用来搭建亭台楼阁和桥梁的话,他们可能需要有进一步的分层,比如把中国古建筑里最基本的元素找出来作为最底层,在最上层对各种特殊类型的建筑又有独立的类比。如何去分层,让繁多的组件都能很好的组织起来,其他人可以很方便的使用,很快速的搭建,这些都是空间建模的能力,也代表了他们对中国古建筑的理解的进一步深入。


图:使用Paracraft搭建的中国特色建筑

而编程里指令的封装,也是一种模块化。其中有些指令是更底层的,被上层的指令反复调用。这就需要学生具有很强的抽象提取能力。而学生也可以去创造新的指令,可以是更底层的可以被很普遍的调用的通用指令,也可以是上层的更方便的做某些事情的指令。这些不正是搭建吗?这与孩子们的建筑搭建里需要的建模是一样的。

而这些底层的指令则代表了对那个层次的理解,或者说那个层次的抽象模型。就好像斗拱屋瓦等代表了对中国建筑的理解一样,或者说是中国建筑的抽象模型。

这里重复一遍前文说过的很重要的一句话,对空间的感知能力就是最基础的思维能力,其他的能力,如抽象模型的表达能力,拆解能力,综合能力组合能力,复杂系统的诊断能力,解决问题能力,辩证思维能力等等,都是建立在这个基础之上的。

通过3D的搭建,建模和动画,孩子获得这些空间能力的丰富的系统的启蒙与培养,再进入到编程领域的学习来获得对这些空间能力的抽象的本质的认识。

提出生命中心的克里斯多夫亚历山大对计算机科学和软件编程有着深远的影响。上世纪6,70年代发展出来的对象化编程,设计模式,极限编程,以及2000年后开始流行并已经成为软件行业的主流的敏捷开发,都是计算机科学家和程序员们非常主动的要把克里斯多夫亚历山大的理论用于计算机科学或软件编程的结果。克里斯多夫亚历山大是个建筑师。他提出空间是包含生命的,是一切思维的基础。 Paracraft里的3D搭建,正是完美的系统的通过空间搭建的方式,去培养儿童们核心的编程思维能力,并把计算机科学和软件编程的所有知识都完美的用生命空间统一融合起来,并成为一个丰富的教育的平台,让不同兴趣不同背景的儿童都可以在其中可以进行丰富的生命发现,生命表达,拥有丰富的玩和学习的生命体验。


图:建筑学家克里斯多夫亚历山大

我们站在诸位软件先驱的肩膀上,系统清晰深入的提出了编程教育应有的丰富内涵和内容,应有的广度和深度,通过Paracraft这个3D创作工具完美的表达了出来。学会编程,学会学习!

升级的完整的计算机科学和软件编程教育

在软件行业里,我们发现我们的程序员普遍缺乏几个方面的素质:

  1. 不会制作2D或者3D UI(用户交互界面),缺少审美能力。UI创作和设计能力是程序员的一个基本技能。普通的学校和机构学习一般不涉及图形或者3D设计,Paracraft里的编程学习,大家可以看到,2D或者3D UI的设计能力,审美能力,是作为核心的能力来培养的。并且这个能力与编程本身的能力是一致的,通过抽象建模完美的统一起来。
  2. 缺少产品设计能力,甚至不关心产品设计。但是在Paracraft的动画电影或者游戏设计中,学生都需要有很强的产品设计能力。Paracraft的搭建+动画+编程的整体,也是在培养相关的产品思维能力,这些能力,也是与编程的核心能力一致的。
  3. 缺少写出漂亮代码的能力,这里包括写相当复杂的软件时的那种讲故事的能力,复杂系统的搭建能力。
  4. 软件项目的迭代管理能力。这本质上也是一个对空间感知和交互的能力。

以上是行业里普遍存在的现象,也说明现在计算机/软件编程教育的严重不足。

而Paracraft编程教育,正是通过3D搭建,动画和编程,让孩子们从小培养完整的编程能力。

Paracraft的编程,不仅是提供了丰富完整的编程启蒙教育,真正有潜质对编程有强烈兴趣的孩子也可以在Paracraft里持续成长成为专业的程序员。这也是现在一般的编程教育都无法做到的。Paracraft能做到这点,简单的说,主要基于以下两点:

  1. Paracraft软件包含了3D动画和游戏的所有知识模型,是工业级别的软件。只是它以方块的形式呈现,儿童们上手很容易,很轻松就可以拥有搭建复杂世界的能力。
  2. Paracraft本身在架构设计上的开放透明性。
  3. Paracraft本身是开源项目,源代码开放,任何有能力的开发者都可以在网上参与贡献代码。
  4. Paracraft里的项目或者世界都是开放透明的,只要你知道项目的id,就可以进入该世界,并且可以进行编辑,查看其中的代码或者电影方块,探索是如何制作的。Paracraft至今已经积累了很多的优秀作品,包括很多专业级别的作品供大家学习。

我们相信Paracraft能真正改变我们现在的编程教育,解决其给行业带来的各种巨大问题,并为未来社会培养大量的优秀的程序员和相关软件人才。


图:Paracraft里包含了3D动画和游戏的所有知识模型

艺术与科技的交融

Alan Kay认为程序员应该会画画。硅谷创业之父Paul Graham在其著作《黑客与画家》里阐述了程序员的工匠属性。在Paracraft教育里,艺术与科技是无缝的对接。

正是因为Paracraft编程教育是基于空间思维的,我们把场景搭建(包括模型搭建),动画电影,和游戏编程融为一个统一的整体,所以可以说Paracraft是艺术与科技的完美融合。


图:Paracraft作品象形之美

这一切的核心,在于对空间的感知。空间的感知能力,正是艺术与科技之间的桥梁。 所有的所谓逻辑问题,其实本质上都是以空间感知为主的,顺序性的逻辑只是局部的辅助而已。所以,对我们来说,逻辑思维不是独立于艺术感知能力的思维,相反,基于空间的感知能力是一切智能的基础。

生命的教育

Paracraft是艺术与科技的完美融合,也是非常丰富的玩地,不同的孩子都可以在其中找到自己喜欢做的事情。在Paracraft里,就像我们对编程的理解一样,各种能力之间是交叉的互通的,儿童们可以从任何他们感兴趣的地方进入,我们可以帮助他们逐步扩大他们的兴趣,做更大更挑战性的作品,扩张他们的兴趣和能力,逐步掌握完整的思维能力和相关技能。这是一个生命发现的过程。我们认为教育的核心功能之一,就是生命发现。儿童们可以利用丰富的Paracraft来发现自我,我们的导师也会利用他们丰富的经验去帮助孩子们发现他们自己的生命。软件是很大的,所以软件编程是可以完成这样的教育期待的。这也是诸多软件先驱们和教育先驱们对软件编程的教育抱以极大期望的原因。

除了生命发现,Paracraft中的作品创作,如前所述,是一种生命表达。生命表达是教育的另一核心功能。 创作出来的作品,又成为其他孩子们生命发现的土壤。

不仅如此,Paracraft里所有的学习,都围绕着生命空间的感知和基于这个感知能力基础之上的各种能力进行。同时,Paracraft教育,是融玩,学习和创造为一体的教育。我们说人的一生/每天只有三件事可做:玩,学习和创造。这三者就是生命的本质。我们理解的编程,就是这样的一个富含生命的过程。编程的本质,就是要让做出来的东西好玩,要学习各个不同的领域,要不断的创造。限于篇幅,我们这里不展开。你可以阅读我们的文章“编程,生命,教育”

Paracraft的并行世界,丰富的教育空间

Alan Kay曾这样动情的描述过他想象的通过仿真,孩子们可以拥有的丰富的教育世界:

What if you could say to the library: “I wonder what it would be like to live in the Baghdad of the Caliphate?” or “I wonder how it feels to be a whale?” and expect the library to show you? Do you like Van Gogh? How about a simulation of the fields outside his house? Would you care to sit in with Louis Armstrong or Wolfgang Mozart? What would it do to the world if we could all see how everybody else lived and share in their cultures?

Simulation is the power to see what you imagine, to create worlds that obey your command. The computer can build instant sensory representations. The user/programmer explores a universe that reacts, in which the degree of the user’s power depends upon and grows with one’s understanding of the way the worlds work.

这就是Alan Kay的幻想放大器。他幻想通过软件仿真,可以让孩子们去体会生活在哈里发时代的巴格达是怎么样的体验?或者成为一只鲸鱼是怎样的体验?如果你喜欢梵高,我们可以仿真一下他房子外面的田野。或者你可以跟路易斯·阿姆斯特朗或莫扎特坐在一起聊聊?

Alan Kay说仿真就把你想象的世界造出来,让其遵守你的指令。计算机可以创造即时的感官体验,让用户探索一个可以互动的世界,通过这样互动探索的方式,用户获得对一个世界是如何运作的理解,这样的理解会带给用户巨大的力量

Paracraft里我们有一个平行世界(ParaWorld) 的愿景,即通过大量的3D世界的创作,把各种丰富的世界带到你的面前和指尖,让你可以与之互动。Paracraft对世界的仿真,可以突破时空的局限,制作丰富的教育内容。比如,模拟整个宇宙,让孩子们真实的感受星体的运行,互相间的比例关系,探索黑洞或者虫洞的神秘;模拟生物的细胞和组织,探索生物组织抗击病毒的免疫机制;或者走入分子原子电子的微观世界,以前很难想象的电子的流动电压的产生都变得直观,分子间的化学反应,有机大分子如何组成生物组织和构建生命,都成了可以观察可以互动和试验的3D世界;走入历史的时空,去体验一下李白苏轼创作某首诗词时的意境,春秋战国时期的纵横捭阖金戈铁马,遥想一下自己生活在那个时代会如何如何,体会历史演化背后的各种力量,包括人类历史发展与地理环境间的关系。学生与所有领域的老师们都可以参与到各领域知识内容的创作中去,创作丰富的3D世界和教育内容,让各领域的学习,更直观,更生动,更丰富,更有趣!

小孩子从出生开始就处在对丰富的世界进行探索式学习的过程中。比如积极的探索物理的世界,这是要持续很多年的过程,是孩童阶段很重要的一部分学习。比如跳上高处或者从高处跳下,或者往水壶里倒水的时候学习听水的声音就知道什么时候水快满了。这么丰富的学习,是无法用上课的方式学习的,孩童们都是通过在丰富世界的玩耍和探索式学习来完成的,儿童们都有探索和总结的能力。我们在谈学习能力的时候必须清楚的知道,这才是学习能力。这种学习,很多时候还是通过游戏来进行的,比如捉迷藏可以让我们了解自己的反应能力,对视觉可以有丰富的体验。每个孩子都可以在玩中获得丰富的体验并从丰富体验里去自我总结知识或者说创造知识。所以我们如果真的关注教育关注孩童的成长,就不应该把他们放到课堂里去上课学习,而是应该做好这个丰富的玩地,可以有很多的游戏,让他们可以持续的一直进行丰富的探索式学习,让他们持续的成长。Paracraft的平行世界就是这样的丰富的玩地,也是我们玩地建设的一个重要部分。

Alan Kay甚至说:“游戏能力和幻想能力,是一个人面对世界的能力!(game playing and fantasizing are metaphors for the kind of skill people need to get around in the world)”

我们通过我们想象的各种模型来理解我们的世界。通过这些模型我们又可以洞察当前世界里不完善的地方,我们可以通过进一步的想象,想象出更好的模型,并通过实现这些更好的模型去改变我们的世界。这些都是想象和游戏的能力,是关于我们对世界和人生的认知的根本的思维,也是软件改变世界的方式。

比如,我们尝试去理解我们现在的教育制度或者环境,我们通过抽象建模的方式去理解它们是怎么一回事,获得对当前教育制度或环境的本质的系统的理解,我们再根据我们自己的学习体验,去构建学习应有的抽象模型,我们去寻找这些模型之间是否融洽,发现其中可能的大的根本性的问题,是否能有更好的教育模型可以与学习的模型更好的匹配,甚至是更好的和社会资源匹配和我们的经济需求匹配。我们努力的去通过抽象模型来对我们周边的世界形成根本的本质的理解,再通过我们的想象的更理想的抽象模型去指导我们如何去改进我们的世界。这就是软件编程改变世界的本质!

Paracraft的3D并行世界的创作,就给了孩子们锻炼这种理解世界改变世界的能力的丰富的土壤。

走向未来的人工智能研究,让人更成为人

LOGO的原型来自另一个计算机语言LISP,Papert修改了LISP的语法使得他更易于阅读。(引自维基百科)

LISP可以说是最早的人工智能语言。Papert本人也参与了大量的早期的人工智能研究。

同样的,Paracraft的开发语言是NPL语言,也是人工智能语言,NPL(Neural Parallel Language)模拟人类大脑神经元的工作原理。Paracraft 3D引擎的高效,正是来自于NPL语言对大脑神经元工作方式的模拟。人类的大脑神经元的并行运算有着现今最强大的计算机都无法比拟的计算能力。

Paracraft为青少年的编程教育平台的同时,也可以用作人工智能的仿真实验室,Paracraft 3D世界里的人与物都可以看作是对现实世界的仿真。Paracraft本身,也是对人类大脑的工作方式的模拟。Paracraft的3D动画编程,正是基于人脑的编程,是最高效直接的编程,因为编程无外乎人脑对人或物的操作,这些在Paracraft里都通过仿真和基于仿真的编程来实现。

上面讲到的Paracraft的平行世界(ParaWorld)也是人工智能仿真研究的一个部分。Alan Kay认为,普通人认为没有目的的玩耍,其实正是学习,是一种探索式的不断想象不断试错的学习。而计算机可以虚拟化一切的特点正是可以实现这样的学习。这是Kay设想的人工智能的基础。从本文你可以看到,这也是我们的方向。

以我们对人工智能的理解,我们的编程教育和人工智能研究都是建立在生命感知生命发现生命表达与空间思维基础上的。我们希望实现真正的人工智能,让人更成为人,更健康全面的人,而不是让人更机器化。

Paracraft的人工智能研究,是走在世界前列的科学研究。学生们对Paracraft的使用与学习,包括3D世界的创作,是丰富的人工智能启蒙和教育的土壤,他们在其中能获得的对人工智能的理解,远远超过其他的肤浅的人工智能教育。

小结

我们阅读这些软件先驱们对编程教育的思考,发现他们同我们一样,在思考很多相同的问题,除了本文已经提到的很多内容,还有专业人士与教育者之间应该是什么样的关系,科学发现是怎么样的过程,如何让更多的人参与到科学发现中去,教育的意义(比如每个组织都应该承担教育的责任,成为教育资源)等等。将近半个世纪而以后,我相信我们可以更好的去回答这些软件先驱们当年提出的那些问题。

这些计算机先驱和教育家们,基于这些认识,对编程教育抱有极大的期望。同今天的很多人认为编程教育就是单纯的学编程不同,他们认为,编程教育,实际承载的是教育本身,即学会这样的探索式思维方式和学会如何学习,当然同时也掌握进行这些思维和学习的数字化工具即编程本身。具体的讲,即要让儿童们通过编程去丰富他们对模型的感知能力和各种表达能力,通过实验去验证和修改模型的能力,大型项目中的表达沟通与合作能力,丰富的空间感知和思维能力,复杂系统的处理能力等等。

Paracraft,正是实现这些理念最佳的平台!学会编程,学会学习!

中国编程教育的现状

LOGO编程语言在8,90年代引进过中国。Scratch如今是中国青少年编程教育里使用的较为普遍的工具。

但是与国外Scratch的使用不同的是,国内对Scratch的使用背离了Scratch的编程教育理念,即本文阐述的自软件的先驱们开始的一脉相承的编程教育理念。首先是把编程当作是单纯的编程学习而没有对编程本质的理解,意识不到编程学习具有的广泛教育意义。再就是编程的学习方式并不是Scratch秉承的基于玩和创造的学习,而仍然是应试化的教学。教学的方式和内容与当前大学编程教育的弊端是一样的,甚至可能造成更坏的结果,让本来有潜力在编程领域发展的孩子们在很小的年纪就开始惧怕和厌烦编程。

在我们的教育实践里就遇到过不少这样的曾经在学校或者校外机构上过基于Scratch的编程课,但是非常厌倦编程的学生。但是通过我们在Paracraft里的引导,这些学生逐渐发展出对编程真正的兴趣与爱好。像我之前分享的我小时候学习LOGO的经历一样,脱离了LOGO背后的理念用应试化的教学方法来学习编程是适得其反的。

现在中国的青少年编程教育市场涌入的大量的是不懂编程不关心教育的商人,造成市场非常混乱的现象,广大的家长被商家的宣传口径误导的状况非常普遍和严重。我们急需真正懂编程懂教育对编程教育抱有极大热情的人士来打破现有的乱象,理清编程教育的框架,让整个市场和行业走上健康发展的道路。

Paracraft编程教育成果和作品展示

https://paracraft.cn/videos


参考文献:

Posted in Software Education | Leave a comment

Problem Solving vs Creating One’s Own Knowledge

10年前给进城务工青年(基本上是农村里读书只读到小学初中就出来到大城市打工的青年)做过远程的基于重要体验的导学。当时问他们有问题的时候如何解决。发现他们大多都是问人或者网上简单的搜索一下,把眼前的问题解决了就完事了,并没有通过问题的解决去有意识的积累知识的习惯。

比如,碰到身体疾病,问一下人或者网上大概查一下就完了,并没有下意识的在这个过程中去积累自己的医学知识,或者用自己已有的知识来判断网上搜索出来的不同结果哪个更靠谱。

以前我以为这是这个群体特有的现象。后来发现不少学霸身上也有这样的情况。不同的,可能是这些学霸会去下意识去记忆搜到的答案,但缺少明显的意识要去构建自己的知识。对他们来说,学习知识还是要去上课。他们也同样缺乏用自己的知识来判断网上的不同结果哪个更靠谱的能力。

所以,给我的感觉,似乎不管是学霸还是学渣(套用大家的流行语,虽然我不太认同这两个词汇。这两个词似乎不同场合带有不同的褒义或贬义,但因为我不认同学校的学习是学习,所以这两个词对我都没有意义,只是延用大家都在使用的词汇而已。)都被学校教育严重误导,认为只有上课才是学习,平日的生活不是学习,也没有意识去不断创造自己的知识。

可以看到,现代教育对“学渣”和“学霸”都同样的造成了巨大的伤害。后来发现,不仅仅是在学校想好好学但学不上去很痛苦的学生会这样,不少在学校从不学习无忧无虑渡过学生阶段的“学渣”,也同样形成了只有上课才是学习的观念。擅长学校学习的学霸,也不懂的在生活中去创造自己的知识解决问题。

虽然我大学和研究生都是生物医学专业毕业,但我认为我主要的医学知识还是在毕业以后通过生活中的学习不断积累出来的。就是自己或周边的人有疾病的时候,就把解决问题的过程当作一个很好的学习的机会。网上搜出来的医学信息确实良莠不齐,尤其是中文的网站。但是即使像99健康网这样的信息质量很差的网站,在像丁香园好大夫这些网站没有搜索结果的情况下仍然可以提供一定程度的参考,前提是要依据自己已有的医学方面的知识模型去推理判断,99健康网的答案只能是参考,帮自己去想这个问题。同时百科(维基百科或百度百科)上相关词条看一看,把相关器官或组织的结构和大概功能了解一下,都是在根据知识模型去判断。当然维基百科作为资料来源更可靠一些,百度百科以前很差,基本都是广告,近年感觉要好一些了,但看的时候还是要谨慎一些,先大体判断一下这个词条文章的整体质量如何。所以,对信息的判断,离不开自己的知识模型或者说知识结构。我们在日常需要积累或者创建的不是一条条的供记忆的知识点,而应该是自己的知识模型或者说知识结构。要有结构化的知识。

比如很多人在路上找路的时候习惯直接问人。这倒不见得是问题,很多时候也确实更高效。但这些人往往不太注重利用这样的机会去提高自己的相关知识或技能,习惯了碰到问题快速的解决完事。比如如何利用手机地图来找到从哪个地铁口出去比较方便。对对方的答案,他们往往也不加判断的全盘接受,没有考虑到对方可能也不清楚,或者对方的描述或者对距离的估计也会是有很大问题的等等,不会用手机核实一下,就照着对方说的走半天的弯路。

而且很多时候很多问题是无人可问的,只能依靠自己的知识模型去解决。

当然我这里跟大家分享的,也是一个创造知识的过程。首先是发现知识,我发现这样两个不同的群体都有着缺乏创造自己知识的习惯,这个现象似乎与他们的学校教育有关。因为学校学习给大众造成了上课才是学习的概念和习惯,似乎让大众包括学霸和在学校从不学习的学渣,都深受影响,从而塑造了他们在生活中所有与学习和知识相关的行为模式。

这似乎是一个很有意思的知识领域。发现知识后就要通过相关重要体验的积累去构建这个领域的知识,这就是创造知识。创造知识时,重要的是把所有的相关重要体验积累齐全,再从所有的重要体验上形成新的整体的理解。这个理解就是可以运用的知识模型,帮助自己碰到相关问题的时候可以进行判断和解决问题。

这个过程,就是一个大胆假设,小心求证的过程。发现知识的时候要大胆,好像发现新大陆一样。要勇于通过自己的想象能力提出可能的假设。但是知识的构建/创造过程必须小心求证,必须细心全面的积累相关的重要体验,严谨的从这些重要体验去推出新的知识。

当然,我这篇文章里跟大家分享的,可能更多的还是处在发现知识的阶段。虽然我可能已经有了更多的相关的重要体验,但还是需要时间去记录和整理,并在一个比较长的时间里都会比较注意这方面的重要体验的积累(这也就是知识引擎或学习笔记的重要性)。同时,也欢迎大家跟我一起来做这个知识领域的探索和知识创造!

这里顺便提一下导学如何实施的问题。导学,很多时候只要能够成功的帮助学生发现知识,就可以适可而止了。接下来可以给出相关的“玩地”,让大家自己去探索。千万不要把自己整个的探索过程,积累的重要体验一股脑的板书出来,更不要只是讲自己最后的结论。即使那是你自己的结论,属于你自己创造的知识,这样的教学,从引导学生培养探索能力创造知识能力的角度看,也是非常差的。

这篇文章还有另一个相关的知识领域。和大家的交流,我发现需要更多的把生活中很丰富的具体的学习描述出来。现在大家谈到学习,脑子里已经被学校学习严重固化了,想到的都是上课学习,但对生活中真正的大量的学习现象视而不见,造成大家对真正的学习认识很不够,包括很多做教育创新的朋友。所以,这一块,也是我最近要去积累发现的知识,也欢迎大家一起来发现创造!

发现知识创造知识的过程,是很严谨的,是和科学家进行科学发现一样的过程。人类近几十年来在科学发现上缺少突破,可能就是因为175年来的现代教育,已经让大众都偏离了知识发现知识创造的学习过程(科学兴起之初是有着广泛的大众参与的)。当然这可能也只是我的一个假设,虽然我已经有不少相关重要体验的积累。

如此庞大的缺乏创造自己知识能力的大众,给我们今天的社会带来多大的影响?我们看看各个群里的讨论,或者是大家日常的交流,都是大量的观点的争执。观点就是自己的知识,当然在现代教育制度影响下的人们,并不善于区分哪些知识有更多的自己的重要体验,还是主要来自于他人。大家都非常急于摆出自己的观点,缺少平等的交流。如果问大家,自己最烦的事是什么?很多人可能会说最烦别人想当自己的老师;如果问我们最喜欢做的事情是什么?我觉得对很多人来说就是当别人的老师。这就是现代教育的不平等关系给大众带来的心理影响。知识是权威的,每个人都渴望成为权威,却没有意识到,知识是个体自己创造的。

所以,我们可以看到现代教育制度关于学习和知识的错误概念给我们带来的巨大的伤害。大家都陷于各种情绪的对抗中,缺少发现真实的能力,缺少对真实的追求,缺少对真正生命的感知,以情绪对抗为乐,而缺少对真正生命快乐的体验。这个社会,有多少人是愿意读深度新闻的,有多少人愿意通过长时间的积累去逐步的形成一些认识,在这个过程中不妄下结论?大家都是急于下结论急于表达自己的观点,执迷于观念之争名词之争,都是因为对创造自己知识的过程缺乏了解。

现代教育理论里,讲的概念都是知识传递(knowledge transfer)和知识留存度(knowledge retention),所以各种手段,比如提问,做项目等等,都被当作了增加知识留存度达到更好的知识传递效果的手段。但实际上,知识都是个人自己创造的,是一根蜡烛点亮另一根蜡烛。蜡烛能够点亮发光是蜡烛本来就有的能力,在合适的外部条件下发生的化学反应。知识传递和知识留存度是伪概念。认识到我们都在创造自己的知识,才能对教与学的种种行为形成新的正确的认知。

如今很多创新教育非常强调围绕解决问题能力的学习或者项目式学习,但我觉得在理念和理论上还是大多停留在现代教育制度关于知识的错误概念上,变成了似乎是强调动手而忽略知识的学习。这里需要完成的一个概念转换,就是知识不是传递的,而是自己创造的。数字化教育或者互联网教育的真正起步,也在这里。

其实生物医学专业毕业后的在生活中的医学知识的积累并不是毕业后立刻开始的。大概是几年后我发现互联网上已经有足够丰富的医学信息,我意识到已经可以在生活中通过解决问题去学习医学知识了。这就是说,这个学习医学知识的“玩地”在互联网上出现了。知识历来都是自我创造的,但“玩地”的丰富,让这个创造的过程更加便捷,更多的人都可以参与进来。这就是我们身处的大的时代背景。我们会去创建更多的好玩的玩地,对现代教育制度的改变,新教育范式的建立,必将在我们手中实现!

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Life, Knowledge, and Psychology, our understanding of Self-Directed Education

中文版

Keywords:

Self-Directed Education, Innovative Education, Sudbury Model, Playground, Mentoring, Exploratory Learning, Self-Directed Learning Community, Psychological Counseling, Equal Conversation, Family Education, Modern Education System, New Education Paradigm

Abstract

SDE or innovative education has sprung up at home and abroad, and has reached a certain scale and become a trend. This paper attempts to make a systematic understanding of the patterns of these different educational practices from a deeper level, and to gain a deeper understanding of the three obvious modules of these education communities: life, knowledge and psychology, as compared with the old education system, in order to form an understanding of the new educational paradigm.


Notice: please read slowly, as I intentionally write in a way for slow reading and contemplating.

SDE or innovative education, from the surface, we can say they all have life, knowledge and psychology three big modules. Let’s talk about these three modules and then we will look deeper into then to see what they have in common.

Innovative education often advocates life is learning, advocating learning should come from life, so in all kinds of innovative education, the scope of learning will often be close to students’ lives. Such as movie appreciation, cooking, novels, board games and so on.

Some of these innovative education will pay more attention to knowledge learning. Some will even offer traditional subjects like that in modern education, such as English language or mathematics, still having the concept of a standard curriculum system of modern education. Some will let students and teachers to all participate in the curriculum design, such as at the beginning of a semester and allow students to choose their favorite courses. In this way, the concept of the standard curriculum system has been weaken, but there is still the concept of the curriculum system.

The Sudbury model, we should mention, has never offered a course for all students across the whole semester. In the early days, several individual students initiated requests that the staff of SVS (there is no teacher in Sudbury, adults are all staff) give some lessons on certain topic, mostly for a short period of time. Or students who are about to graduate and decide to take the college entrance exam will apply for specialized tutoring by SVS staff. In recent years, because of the rise of the Internet, these short lessons have almost disappeared in SVS. I feel SVS’ value has always been more opposed to the concept of curriculum.

But there were schools that used to be the Sudbury model, made a change due to requests from students, mainly because students saw so many classes in traditional schools, they felt pressured to have their own curriculum every semester. So they started as described above at the beginning of each semester students and teachers together will develop this semester’s courses and students can choose what courses to take to get credits. But the school has also reserved another track for students who prefer the Sudbury model, the Sudbury track, which means that no class-taking is needed.

Many of Silicon Valley’s big tech companies are also making educational innovations. Google, Facebook and others have set up their own schools. Perhaps because it is this type of technology company that started the school, and which are aimed at their employees’ children, so knowledge learning is very strong at these schools. A lot of emphasis is put on the learning of various systems, such as road system and electricity system. Another focus is project-based learning.

There are some such schools in China that can be considered to be oriented towards the elite, although they are also doing educational innovation and consider life learning skills very important.

Therefore, in innovative education communities, there is a split between life learning and knowledge learning. For a significant number of people, at least, the two are not the same.

Here’s we share a view from Sudbury founder, Dan, a former physics teacher at Columbia University. He believes that for most people, learning so much about math is unnecessary. If you’re not doing engineering or science work, for most people, it’s enough to learn arithmetic and statistics.

When looking at the memories or interviews of the graduates of SVS, I was most impressed that these Sudbury graduates have a strong ability to explore life and can do the deepest level of thinking, although they did not take any courses in Sudbury. Perhaps it is precisely because there is no curriculum in Sudbury, which gives them the ability to think and explore freely.

There are no courses in Sudbury, but there are books everywhere. SVS consciously set up entire wall shelves in all rooms, filled with books. There is also a special conversation room for people to converse on various topics. I understand these are to build up the concept in people’s minds that “knowledge is everywhere and everyone should create their own knowledge”. Dan, the founder of SVS, said that knowledge are models in the human brain, and that everyone is creating their own knowledge.

Now in most schools, there are psychological counseling teachers in solving some of the students’ psychological problems. In the innovative education communities, it seems that they pay more attention to psychological health of the students. For example, the Agora Learning Community has Growth Mentors who have a constant focus on the mental growth of students. I don’t know much about the detailed work responsibilities of Agora’s growth mentor, but I feel they’re doing it quite systematically.

I think we all notice that in all the SDE communities, there are a lot of games, all kinds of games, such as board games, video games, playing cards and chess, all kinds of sports, dancing, musical instruments, watching movies, writing novels, traveling and so on. I believe that we all have played these as we grow up, and have experiences of playing them, some might be good experiences, some might be bad experiences. By comparison with others during these games, everyone can find a lot about themselves through these games. This is actually a very good place for education, and it is an educational place that every family can have. A good coach knows how to provide different guidance to students with different personalities. The core of the guidance, I think, is to give students the confidence to explore for themselves.

Each child is different, and each person has a different starting point. Some people are very confident from the beginning, while others may care more about the feelings of others. Life is rich and people are diverse. Good mentors/coaches should be able to notice these rich diversity at different levels. Some people may not be very good at sensing and exploring in a certain environment. Good coaches should be able to keep an eye on this and give these kids room to feel and explore better. Of course, in a generally speaking equal and tolerating environment, all children can feel and explore well. Bad environments, such as parents or coaches who like to scold, make it harder for these children to feel and explore on their own. Creating an environment where different children can play together and be able to feel and explore on their own makes a good educational environment.

I understand the role of a psychologist, a large part of which is to create a safe environment of mutual trust. With such an environment, daily play can become a good place for learning.

Therefore, we can say that psychology, in addition to life and knowledge, should be one aspect that a learning community must pay attention to.

Omnipresent and equal conversation is also an aspect of shaping such an environment. Mimsy, the founder of SVS, has talked eloquently about the omnipresent and equal conversation in SVS, arguing that it is the central thing in the SVS model that replaces the curricula of other schools. In fact, as long as there are common things people are interested in, or specific things to do together, equal conversations can become the best place for education. Like conversations we observe between children, they are conversing of their own significant experiences or making short summaries, instead of lecturing lengthily like teachers do in schools. I believe that many parents also find it helpful to do things together with their children that are of mutual interest and to converse their experiences equally while engaging in these activities, just like friends together.

Therefore, education can be omnipresent. First of all, you have to have play, preferably a lot of people play together. Learning will certainly happen in playing. The key to make a good learning environment lies in the respect for equality and diversity. Play/learning/creation is the three in one life activity, in which we get the fundamental life experience. Equality manifests itself as diversity in life. We experience equality through our respect for diversity. A good educational environment should be one in which there is a wealth of play/learning/creation activities, where there is playground, plus respect for equality and diversity, to let everyone feel and explore freely and in self-directed ways.

Family is a good place for education. Every family’s parents can be the best teacher. For the learning communities, they just have more people to play together. A large part of what many self-learning communities are doing now is making up for the damage that students have been subject to at home and in schools if they have been to traditional schools. These injuries are psychological, but can also be considered to be learning/educational, such as losing self-directed learning capacities.

So from the above we can see that in these SDE communities, there are obviously these three big modules: Life, Knowledge, Psychology. However, below I will argue that their distinction is superficial and artificial. They are actually deeply connected, if we realize that to learn is to explore, to feel, and to create your own knowledge.

In fact, from my experience, even in the learning of knowledge, the ability to explore is the most important. There are many things to learn in life, and we must grow our knowledge organically. So the ability to feel and explore is very important.

The lecturing way of teaching in modern education, it is its nature to drive students to the direction of knowledge memorization. This was well understood at the beginning of the modern education system, which was designed to make the mass quickly memorize terms and subject matters in order to become industrial workers to work around machines. Nor do we deny that the ability to remember quickly is useful. But we must remind ourselves that modern education is so misery if it only trains people to remember things, since it has taken up so much time of people’s life. There are too many skills to learn. Perhaps the most important skill is the ability to explore in complex life systems. And to truly master a large amount of knowledge, you cannot rely on memorization, instead you have to rely on self-directed feel and exploration to form organic knowledge with their own understanding.

As I mentioned in the educational model of Paracraft Learning Center, learning based on significant experiences and abstract modeling is the most efficient learning.

Now the innovative education has just come out of the traditional modern education system, many models are still influenced by the modern education system, it is difficult to get rid of the old model all together at once. But with the deepening of our practice, we should gradually form a new understanding of education, and really get rid of the old educational paradigm.

Now many educational innovations, have realized that learning shall tend to the needs of students, to be centered around students, and do the curriculum design accordingly. However, it has not departed completely from the traditional education’s lecturing and knowledge memorization model. The curriculum model is still easy to drive students automatically towards knowledge memorization, and it does not realize the self-directed feeling and exploration are the core of learning and education, and does not realize that self-directed feeling and exploration are what run through life, knowledge and psychology all together and make the three an integrated whole. Traditional lecturing and knowledge memorization model automatically drive students away from their natural self-exploration process. So we see that SVS graduates who don’t take courses have a strong ability to explore life and are able to think from the bottom.

As the founders of SVS said, we must create our own knowledge! In modern educational theory, the concepts are knowledge transfer and knowledge retention, so various means, such as asking questions, doing projects, etc., are used as means to increase knowledge retention and to achieve better knowledge transfer effect. But in fact, knowledge is created by the individuals themselves. It is like one candle lighting up another candle. The ability of a candle to give light is the inner ability of a candle. Knowledge transfer and knowledge retention are pseudo-concepts. Realizing that we are all creating our own knowledge, we can then form a new and correct understanding of the various patterns of teaching and learning.

I have been following up and have also been personally involved in educational communities targeting young migrant workers in the city. It should be said that this group has the most real learning needs, there is no tests for them to take. In their educational practice, they should get rid of the shackles of the old educational paradigm and practice the best educational model. But for those schools serving these groups of students, because they have just come out of the old educational paradigm, it is still difficult to get rid of the influence of the old educational paradigm, so unconsciously they still have a lot of traces of the old education, without realizing that there can be a better way.

The teaching/mentoring design based on significant experiences that I talked about in my previous article is about how to adopt some kind of conversation/mentoring way of teaching based on significant experiences without changing the existing curriculum of these learning communities.

Of course, that’s not to say you can’t make lectures. The teacher’s lectures with his own rich experience is very wonderful. If the students just listen, they can also gain a lot. And for very young students, if you don’t say a thing, they don’t know a lot of things. But I think, as soon as we have successfully introduced the topics to the students and aroused their interests, teachers should immediately stop the lecturing, and instead introduce related playgrounds to students, encourage students to explore by themselves, and share their exploration processes and what they find. Teachers can provide guidance according to their rich experiences. Therefore, the lecturing, as a means of to induce interests is ok, but should stop when needed.

I have noticed that some of Agora’s students already have a strong ability to explore knowledge, and have a strong sense and thinking about what to learn and how to learn. I converse with them only to acknowledge their feel and thinking, and share what I have sensed while they might have missed, after all knowledge is a very complex life system, it takes a certain amount of time to gradually accumulate experience. But these students have developed a rather complex ability of feel, thinking and exploration skills, I think this is what the traditional lecturing way of teaching cannot achieve. I think learning is about developing such abilities gradually.

We know that there are this kind of conversation based teaching in some universities. I haven’t experienced it myself in the university, but I’ve heard a lot of people saying that teachers and students in graduate schools in Europe have a lot of one-on-one conversations. My freshmen year history teacher was teaching us mainly in this conversational way, and it had impressed me very deeply and inspired me greatly. He asked us many questions in class.

Does anyone think this approach is very demanding for students, and only applicable at universities? I don’t think so. In fact, this way of teaching is also very rare in colleges.

Some people say this way is very demanding for teachers? I don’t think so. Teachers do need to have their own rich learning experience, and also need to learn to teach this way because they might have been used to how teachers teach in classrooms. But it should not be difficult. It should be quite easy for teachers with rich learning experiences to switch to this way of teaching once they realize that it aligns with their way of learning very well! It should be much easier than training teachers for lecturing at school.

I think the real reason is that we need to have a clear understanding of the distinction between lecturing of textbooks and mentoring for exploratory learning.

We also notice that good mentors or coaches rarely do lengthy lecturing. They many times simply tell you where to try, point out relevant knowledge, the rest are left to you to explore.

I didn’t work full-time as a teacher, but while I am a part-time teacher, I always felt comfortable (of course, I teach in the mentoring way. If it were the traditional lecturing way, I would still feel very awkward), can quickly apply my experience of learning and teaching in real life. For example, in the “teaching” in the real life scenarios, one of the methods I often use is to instantly point out the relevant knowledge models or significant experiences that the other person is exposed to, to instantly expand the other’s knowledge around their current significant experience, or to make connections with their existing knowledge, so to generate learning interest in them, or to make them experience the joy of knowledge. This, I think, is similar to Sudbury’s ubiquitous books. These experiences, I naturally apply them in the formal teaching places.

Learning and teaching are ubiquitous. For a teacher, the first thing they need is a lot of learning experiences. As an edupreneur, it is best to have learning experiences of several large and different areas. Secondly, teaching is ubiquitous. Teaching in many informal settings of life can instead cultivate the skills to “teach” on the basis of full respect for equality and diversity, and accumulate a great deal of experiences on that. These experiences are precisely what we need in order to create a new educational paradigm and to get rid of the old educational paradigm. We are not still at the stage of breaking up old things. Now we need to build a new understanding of education, a new paradigm. Only in this way can innovative education or SDE be “powerful” and spread to the wider population, and find models that can be replicated, so that more people can have access to SDE.

When I used to hear the word “informal learning”, I always argue that informal learning is actually the real learning, the formal learning. Now I would like to say what we really need is informal learning. Because once the learning becomes formal, the two opposing identities, teachers and students appeared, the relation between people start to gets distorted, it is then difficult to achieve equal conversation anymore, thus we have lost the education. Therefore, to do education, what we want is informal learning, so that learning and teaching can return to their original “omnipresent” nature, so we can have a lot of “teaching” experience in informal learning scenarios.

Paracraft Learning Center is the educational model that integrate life, knowledge, and psychology together. Because the Paracraft Learning Center is part-time and each student participates only two to four hours a week, so we are unable to provide psychology counseling teachers like many full-time SDE communities. But the PLC is to give students who keep running from lessons to lessons and have always been led by the teacher by the nose, a breathing space, and some free space for self-exploratory learning. We believe that giving children such a free and self-directed space to explore, to participate in play/learn/create three in one life activities, to gradually build up life self-confidence, to learn the life expression, is the way to rebuild life. Various psychological problems can be healed in this process.

Paracraft itself is a very rich playground, where different children can play for life discovery. And as a spatial intelligence based software education platform, Paracraft also contains a wealth of knowledge. It is developed with a transparent architecture that allows potential children to even learn the underlying knowledge of 3D animation engine and artificial intelligence design. And these knowledge learning, not through the way of the curriculum, although we also have a small number of courses and a large variety of courses, but students are most of the time working on projects in our rich playgrounds (including learning resources) to explore the self-directed learning. Mentors mentor them through observation and conversations, guide them to restore and enrich their ability to explore and to create their own knowledge.

We see that the outstanding students graduating from modern education system often lack life skills and conversation skills. At the same time, because of their high grades at school, they mistakenly think that they are good at learning, but actually they do not have the skills to explore the truth by accumulating various facts and significant experiences, even if many of them have good thinking ability and feeling capability, and can subconsciously use these abilities.

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Mentoring based on Significant Experiences

中文版

Keywords:

Significant Experience, Abstract Modeling, Abstract Knowledge Model, knowledge, Sudbury Model, mentoring, conversation, education equality, exploratory learning, modern education system, exam-oriented education, new education paradigm, life thinking, life exploration, mentoring design

Abstract:

This article aims at the innovative education or Self-Directed Education (SDE) communities that have gradually gain popularity but still kept classroom-based learning and have not completely moved away from the old education or test-oriented education framework. We propose here a teaching design based on Significant Experience to help these learning communities shift from lecture-based teaching to a mentoring model that pays more attention to students’ exploration abilities.


Teaching/Mentoring/Conversing

What is “teaching”? In the communities of innovative education or SDE, we have gradually turned teaching into mentoring, and correspondingly turned teachers into mentors. Mimsy, one of Sudbury’s co-founders, has said that one of the biggest features of Sudbury Valley School (SVS) is the ubiquitous conversations between students and students, between students and staff, between faculty and staff, on a variety of topics.

The kind of conversations in SVS are a bit different from how people usually converse. In general, adults are used to expressing our judgments or conclusions directly, rather than the significant experiences behind them. People’s judgments and conclusions will generally be very different, often will become the focus point of opposition and disputes, and people argue back and forth for many rounds and still cannot resolve their differences.

We can say that these opinions, judgments or conclusions are the individual knowledge of people. When we converse, we are used to taking our knowledge directly out, rather than conversing on the sources of that knowledge, which are the significant experiences beneath. It’s often difficult to agree with each other in terms of perspectives or knowledge, but if we’re just communicating our own significant experiences, we can all respect each other’s expression of their own significant experiences. We actually share many common significant experiences together. Some experiences may be owned by the other party, not us. Or maybe the other way around, owned by us, not by the other party. But we can all respect each other’s experiences. If you don’t have some of the significant experiences, then remind yourself that your knowledge may lack some significant experiences and need to acquire them through some activities. During the conversation, although we may not have a strong personal experience in the thing being discussed, we still can have some understanding of the experiences shared by the other side, and be aware that these experiences are the foundation of the other person’s knowledge or opinions.

When everyone lays out their own significant experiences, we then look at all the significant experiences related to this topic as a whole, trying to form some overall understanding. This is the process of building knowledge from significant experiences. This process should rigorous, comprehensive, and even scientific. The process that scientists discover new knowledge is essentially the same.

The process of creating knowledge from significant experiences takes a certain amount of exercise.  In the conversation, the first thing we need is to share all our significant experiences related to the matter. Then let’s see if the process of learning (or drawing conclusion) from the significant experience is rigorous and complete. When we are obsessed with making our conclusions/views clear from the start and eager to communicate the views, the other person may not know the significant experience behind, let alone whether you have been rigorous in your steps of building up knowledge from significant experiences.

In fact, as long as the relevant significant experiences are laid out and there are no obvious omissions, it is not very difficult to build up knowledge from these significant experiences. You can even do so by just taking a glance of these experiences and then know immediately in your mind. The major mistake when creating knowledge (drawing conclusion) we often make is we didn’t recall and evaluate all out significant experiences completely and rigorously. So, first of all, putting all the relevant significant experiences out is the foundation of conversation.

This is basically the kind of conversation that SVS have, whether it’s between students and students, between students and staff, or between staff. From this perspective, “teaching” is ubiquitous. The founders of SVS always talks about SVS’ efforts to allow students to explore on their own, but it is not like adults don’t pay attention to the students. There are many subtle and complex things that the staff are carrying out in SVS, and one has to experience them directly by themselves. Such as conversations mentioned here, the experience and knowledge of both sides related to the matter are often not equal, so how to still engage in equal conversations? And how to manifest teaching and learning in their natural form? Learning and teaching are universal in life, not just in formal teaching/learning places.

SVS and many other SDE communities advocates age-mixing. So is there any teaching between the older kids and younger kids? Is it more like a relationship between an old player and a new player?

I think mentoring should be like the relationship between the old player and the new player. The old player tells the new player where there is things to play with (including various resources), guide when necessary, get the new player started, then let the new player play by himself. Old players sometimes need to offer a little help when the new player gets stuck. More often the old player only needs to give a gentle reminder so that the new player will be able to continue to explore on their own. Old players sometimes sum up what something is in the simplest language, which is the expressive power of abstract knowledge models. The relationship between the old player and the new player seems to be perfect embodiment of the relationship between the mentor and the learner, as well as the way to mentor.

What old players share with new players is a wealth of significant experiences and simple knowledge models. The old players are mainly to guide the new players to explore and form their own knowledge. Old players point out where there are things to play with, point out significant experiences for new players, and share more relevant significant experiences they have, with a brief overview of relevant knowledge models, all of which are guiding new players to explore and create their own knowledge.

Of course, there is actually a lot of things to explore here for this topic. I am only giving a general introduction here.

Design of Teaching/mentoring based on Significant Experiences

The main purpose of this paper is to discuss with you a feasible and easy-to-implement teaching design based on Significant Experiences that can go along with the curriculum of many SDE communities. I hope what I have talked about so far, can lead you to explore this topic. We shall all come together to explore this and contemplate.

Teachers in conventional schools are mostly giving lectures. Except for a few very good teachers, most teachers lack of relevant significant learning experiences. For mentors in the SDE communities, lecturing is still needed sometimes. Because younger children have very little experience, mentors need to talk about things to let them know there are so many things out there. Mentors also want to showcase playgrounds like old players. All the purpose here is to “induce learning interest” and guide students to play and explore on their own. As long as students can explore on their own, the mentor’s purpose has been achieved, and they stop lecturing.

In a way, that’s how kids converse. Watching their conversation, it is more about sharing each other’s significant experiences, or telling each other where to play. Adults develop stronger abstract minds and then stay more in the knowledge level of conversation. And in adults, we often see that the more knowledge one has, the more prejudice one has. This is mainly because the lack of insight into the source of knowledge, which is Significant Experience.

In addition, today’s children are generally more lonely, lack of adequate conversations with other children, which should be an important component of their education. And in our more formal teaching/learning places like schools, should we make more conversations happen between students, and students and teachers? Of course, conversations based on Significant Experiences are equal and friendly. Any authoritative conversations with inequality will immediately come to an end. If you have a clear understanding of the process of how knowledge comes from Significant Experiences, the conversations will be more effective.


Figure: the three Yuegu children in the picture were conversing. An adult came with her child.
The adult asked: kids, you do not go to school to study?
One Yuegu’s child replied: We are learning right now!
I noticed that the child the adult brought with her was clearly quite lonely and rarely have others to converse with.

If we look at education from the perspective of the relationship between people, we can see the deep problem of modern education. In education it is  vital to manifest equality among different people, and usually our concept of what knowledge is can have a huge influence on this equality in education. If we are well aware knowledge is something that everyone create for one’s own, then it is easy to have equality. If we think knowledge belongs to some people of certain authority, then there can hardly be equality.

It’s not just the relationship between adults and children in school, when we observe interactions between adults and their children at home, we can see there are a lot of equality issues, when compared to the interactions between children. In the face of inequality imposed by the adult, children’s response is very direct and even natural. Over time, this influence will gradually develop into certain personalities.

Therefore, design of teaching/mentoring based on significant experiences should allow students or students and mentors to have more such conversations based on significant experiences. Mentor’s role is more like an old player guiding new players to explore.

Mentors can guide students to build knowledge on a variety of topics according to their interests and goals. This may be a bit like the term paper or term project in American universities, but it will be done a lot more frequently and be of various sizes.

About the old educational paradigm

In traditional education based on lecture/homework/examination, it is natural for such a system to drive students towards the tendency of knowledge memorization, as if learning is just to remember those external knowledge.

The SVS Model is unique even among SDE communities. In SVS there is basically no lessons. Early years, some students may ask for some short-term lessons that might get terminated at any time. In recent years because of the development of the Internet, even such classes are almost not anymore. But looking at the interviews and memories of SVS graduates, they all have a strong ability to reflect on themselves and explore their own lives, to be able to think about life at a very deep level. I think that’s something that can be hard to achieve in many SDE communities that still have a lot of lessons.

I also found in my mentoring practice in the Paracraft Learning Center that children are naturally capable to feel and explore. For example, we have established a wealth of learning resources, open learning documents, there are a variety of excellent projects we recommended, there are small project list that we have divided into a couple of big difficulty levels, from beginners to intermediate to advanced, and some basic categories, such as 3D modeling and construction, animation and programming. Children themselves will choose the right learning resources or projects for themselves. When they take a break from working on their projects, they will go to the document to read content that is related to their projects, or find some related small projects to practice with. When they have chosen small projects that are a bit too difficult, they know to take a step back and choose a simpler one. Some will try to learn faster, and they will challenge themselves by picking those difficult programming projects, or taking apart other people’s rather complex programming works, see how the code is written, and study it for hours a day.

So we noticed that children are naturally capable of exploring. The younger the child, the more capable s/he is. But children who go to school for a few years lost this capability gradually. When they run into problems, such as how a block in Paracraft is used, they are used to asking the teacher directly. Some children may be a little unhappy if the teacher doesn’t give a direct answer but asks them to look for it in the document. But younger children mostly know how to try the block on their own in an experimental way. Young children hardly ask the teacher. Instead they use all kinds of methods to explore.

There is also a general view that children lack the ability to contemplate, I found that to be so untrue in my mentoring practice in the Paracraft Learning Center. In fact, children have a strong ability to contemplate, as long as we give them a chance.

So this kind of exploration and feeling is natural to everyone. By the age of 11 or 12, after the development of abstract thinking ability, these children’s ability to self-reflect and to explore life will be very strong, and they can engage in deep thinking of their life, unlike children who go to traditional schools.

But the traditional old education system, the kind of lesson/homework/examination way of education, immediately drives the students to the direction of memorization, deviated from their natural ability to explore learning and to create their own knowledge. Therefore, we say that the test-oriented education is evil, not only because the cruelty and torture of the examination, but also because the education model itself. This model quickly leads children to the wrong way, and strips away their natural innate ability of learning, makes them accustomed to think that learning is the memorization of other people’s knowledge, rather than creating their own knowledge.

The harm caused by such education can be seen in many of today’s social problems, whose roots are right in this education.

I will stop here. I hope we can explore this topic together. Such a teaching/mentoring based on Significant Experiences can be carried out in many SDE communities that still have semester long curricula. I have tried this method 10 years ago teaching in a learning community that served the young migrant workers. So I know it works. I hope we come to explore this field together!

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Understanding Sudbury Model

中文版

Abstract

This essay tries to explore and form a deep understanding of the Sudbury Model, and what it means for the education innovations around the world.


The Sudbury Model is very rich, beyond what can be put into one article. Here I only choose some elements that I personally consider to be the very core of the model. For me, the Sudbury Model is love at first sight. After 20 years of practice in the education field, I feel it is about time for me to reflect on the Sudbury Model again. From my reflection, I feel that the very few essential elements of education that I have summarized after all these years of education practices, are right in the heart of the Sudbury Model. Please note here the I use the word Education in the most general sense as education is indeed everywhere in our lives and work,

Playground

I heard of the Sudbury Valley School from John Taylor Gatto for the very first time in 2004 or 2005. I loved it right there when he talked about it. The SVS (Sudbury Valley School) is a safe playground to me from the very beginning. Large groups of children can play there, which I always feel is the deepest core of the Sudbury Model. When a large group of children can play richly together, learning needs arise in a natural way. After you have the learning needs, the ways of learning is numerous, taking lessons being only one of them. This is what is actually happening at SVS. There are so many ways of learning. Even though there are a few very short term lessons, they appear naturally and disappear naturally. There is never such a thing called curriculum.

This model is quite similar to my childhood experiences. When I first heard of SVS, I was doing my graduate school research on elearning. I was very frustrated with what has been going on in the research and development in the academics and industry. Sudury Model is kind of what I had wanted to realize when I decided to devote my career to education 5 years before then. I thus changed my major and successfully applied an elearning graduate school research project. However, all the researches on elearning I had read then were so far away from what was on my mind, and very often the very opposite of it.

Learning/education has to have a Playground. Learning is everywhere. Play/Learn/Create, the three in one activity is the pervasive life activity in our daily life and work. When we talk about education, it must first have a Playground. Education is everywhere, not just at those formal educational places or scenarios. It is safe to say that life is full of education opportunities. We can even consider psychological consoling also part of education, since the root of many psychological problems are rightly due to the kind of education the person has been through. When we understand education in this general sense and we practice broadly in various educational settings, I believe we will all discover one thing: education must have a Playground.

Build a Self-Directed Explorative Learning Environment

Once you have the learning needs, how do you set about learning it? It is people’s natural innate exploring capability that SVS counts on.

To build a self-directed explorative environment, you need rich resources, so students can feel richly and strongly in this rich environment, and thus they can make choices, to accomplish self-directed explorative learning.

Thus in SVS, books are everywhere. SVS intentionally has all walls occupied by bookshelves that take up the whole walls. And the bookshelves are full of all kinds of books. These rich resources, are the explorative space for children, meeting their various learning needs. From learning perspectives, these resources are also Playground. Rich resources provide the possibility of choices, so students can feel of their own needs, and choose the appropriate resources for their learning. This kind of learning capacity, is what they need in the real world, because not all knowledge will be made into lessons in the real world. You just have to use your senses, to sense yourself, to sense the resources, and know when to skip ahead if it is too simple, or when to draw back if it is too difficult for now. In deed, learning in the real world requires very complex skills of sensing and exploring.

So the books and the various activities at SVS, can be all seen as Playground. Students need to sense their own interests to make choices.

We can also consider the age-mixing at SVS as a way of protecting children’s capability to feel, because the different ages create diversity. For example, in the book “Free at Last”, as the kids playing basketball together, the older kids know to sense the capacity of the younger kids, so that they won’t make moves that might hurt the younger ones. For those younger kids, by playing with older kids, they can feel the bigger challenge that they don’t feel when playing with kids of similar ages.

The staff at SVS (adults are called staff at SVS, not Teachers), are also resources that children can use. Furthermore, the staff at SVS do a lot of work to make a self-directed explorative environment for the students there. The book “Free at Last” outlined many such things.

Knowledge

SVS intentionally builds up bookshelves for all walls. I think it is to set up the awareness of “Knowledge” in the environment. Knowledge is not those categorized subjects or majors in schools. And not just the textbooks are knowledge. All these different books are knowledge, and we are all creating our very own knowledge.

When students have this strong consciousness of “knowledge” on their mind, they will try to create their own knowledge from their rich experiences. And in SVS you never lack rich experiences since SVS is such a self-directed explorative environment, like we said earlier.

SVS has a designated conversation room, where people can converse on any topics. This kind of conversing, is also a process to promote the building of knowledge and its expression. So knowledge is not just what the teachers teach in the classroom. When we converse, we are sharing our own knowledge, and we have to express it in our own words.

Dan, one of the founders of SVS said that knowledge is the model in people’s minds, everyone is creating one’s own knowledge.

When I read of the books by SVS founders, they questioned deeply the categorized subjects and majors in the modern education system. I think SVS’ filling up all rooms with books, is intentionally to break the wrong concept of knowledge that modern education has brought up on people. The more years I have practiced on education, the more I realized that the deep damages the concept of categorized knowledge had done to people.

So, the books everywhere in SVS, is to establish the concept of “Knowledge” in children’s consciousness, so they can disassociate the concept of knowledge from categorized subjects and textbooks of modern education. This is dismantling the concept of knowledge of modern education theory.

Conversation

Mimsy, another founder of SVS, has talked many times about the universal conversations at SVS. This kind of equal conversations exist between students and students, students and staff, as well as staff and staff.

We said earlier that learning is everywhere and education practice has to have Playground. So in an educational environment that has rich playgrounds, the conversation among players sharing similar interests and Significant Experiences, are natural and common. It is like conversations among children, or like those between old players and new players, it is friendly and equal. When this kind of conversations happen, it is already the best education environment you can have. However, modern education has formalized education so much, and made it so separated from real life, knowledge and teachers become the authority, and equal conversations are not possible anymore, thus true education is lost. People influenced by modern education, deeply locked up by the wrong concept of “knowledge”, have lost the ability to make such kind of conversations.

Naturally conversation is equal, and equality is the foundation of friendship. And such equal conversations are usually sharing of Significant Experiences and abstract knowledge models. The flow between significant experiences and knowledge models in conversation is free and agile. But modern people, who are bound by the wrong concept of knowledge of modern education, lost the skill to engage in such conversations.

If they are still capable of such conversation, then their families are the best education place, and playing pokers, chess, basketball, soccer can all be very good playgrounds. Parents who excel at equal conversation can be the best educators.

So the universal equal conversations at SVS, is dismantling the way of teaching of modern education theory, which is based on classroom/lesson/homework/tests.

Judiciary Committee

SVS Judiciary Committee has a session every day, and all students take turn to be on the committee. It is a very essential part of Sudbury Model.

The relation between individuals and groups and how individuals participate in society, are very important to everyone’s life. But in the modern education system, there is rarely any chance to think and practice in this aspect. Most people still don’t know how to handle these even after they have retired from their careers.

For example, how to take the traditional ethnic values in your own culture? What I see is that many college students still stick to those values like primary school students, while some students who have been exposed to society in college start to abandon all ethnic principles immediately, doing whatever to achieve their goals.

How individuals participate in society? This is not what ought to be learned in modern education system, but it is what one has to tangle with throughout one’s life.

Where in SVS, students have full practice on this through the Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee has to have some adult members. And from my memory, some senior students should be on the committee because they have been through it many times, and they are more able to think abstractly than younger ones. Younger ones often are not able to articulate things very well, so these senior students will guide them to learn to articulate it, like when and where what happened, just stating the facts instead of subjective opinions. And they also do investigation and collect evidences. So the whole process of Judiciary Committee session is a very good practice of many things.

What SVS students are practicing in these Judiciary Committee sessions, are what we lack very much in our society. Many graduates from universities, including those with very high GPAs, are unable to think clearly and comprehensively. They are very confused about rights and obligations.

Trust in LIFE

I think the above are all based on trust in LIFE. This is completely different from modern education. Life, if you give it rich soil, it will grow healthily. The goal of education, unlike that of modern education, which is to produce skilled industry workers, should be about letting life growing up to become themselves.

The Implication of Sudbury Model for Education

Knowledge is universal. Learning is universal. Education is universal. Sudbury education, is about going back to life and nature.

The Sudbury Model we summarize here, is not an education model only targeting children or a specific group of people, but an education model for all people to be used in their everyday lives. We hope educators can find these principles helpful when making educational designs in their specific learning environments.

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Inspirations from Sudbury Valley School

Chinese Version

If we look at the Sudbury Model as a kind of educational design, Sudbury Model is a design that has nicely put together essential life centers of education. For example, conversation room, quiet rooms, bookshelves, equipment user lists, judiciary committee, school meeting, and so on are all good life centers of education. This kind of design based on Life Centers, is the same as software design or organization design, in which you feel of the important Life Centers involved, and then combine these Life Centers in a certain way, exactly the same process as how children play with LEGO or build up their 3d worlds in Paracraft. These essential life centers combined together make a model of education, which represents Sudbury Valley School (SVS) founders’ understanding of education. Education is a complex life system. To work in any complex life system often requires a design process, so we educators need to do this kind of design very often, to create a good learning environment or soil, so that life can grow healthily. The Sudbury Model is a very good design. The Paracraft Learning Center is designed based on the Sudbury Model.

Although like many other people, I went to full-time schools in my life. But maybe it is because the school at my time wasn’t like today’s, or where I grew up was quite a special environment, my learning environment in my kindergarten and primary school was pretty much like the Sudbury Valley School (SVS). In short, we have quite plenty of time to play, and we play with a lot of other kids. I might be the type of person who likes to reflect on things, so I can sense the very rich and important learning in those playing activities. Thus from the very first day of school, I was quite surprised that learning was like that at school, and started questioning the way of learning at school. At the very least, I never thought that school learning is all the learning one needs. And as I kept my observation at school, I started to think that even for theoretical learning, school way of learning is not very efficient and indeed quite a waste of time and a waste of life.

So when I heard of SVS for the first time, I felt the immediate closeness. I was doing graduate school research on elearning at the time, and have read a lot of scientific papers on learning, and know all kinds of education theories. I am familiar with all kinds of R&D efforts in academics and industry. But I was shaking my head at all these. I hadn’t heard of anyone talking about the kind of education I wanted until John Taylor Gatto came to town and talked about SVS. He made a 3-hour long speech, and during his whole speech, I kept shouting hysterically inside, like listening to a great Rock & Roll performance.

Different from SVS and other Self-Directed Education (SDE) schools or learning communities, Paracraft Learning Center is part-time. Children come to the center at least 2 hours per week. We don’t think that we have to offer children the ideal perfect environment. It is healthy to be exposed to all kinds of environments. Children know how to compare and reflect. But we need to let them have enough exposure to Self-Directed Education, and this exposure needs to be powerful, deep, and rich. This is what Paracraft Learning Center aims to do. With this kind of exposure, they will have a healthy and strong core so they can handle any environment that they face and know how to gain knowledge in any kind of environment. Even in those artificial boring environments like conventional schools, they also know how to enrich themselves, to make things meaningful, to spend the time actively instead of passively.

Paracraft Learning Center is able to do this because Paracraft as a platform is very rich. It is like the rich nature, children can learn very richly in nature. So although it is not full-time and children only come 2 hours per week (in addition to time spent at PLC, our students all work on their own projects when they go home, projects that are totally from their own ideas) and parents don’t have to make a big decision regarding whether to send them to a full-time Self-Directed Education school or learning community and their children can still go to their regular school after their learning at Paracraft Learning Center, these children nevertheless have grasped the way of exploring and methods of self-directed learning, and they won’t get lost again when they head back to the classroom environment of the school, since they have gained a rational understanding of what learning actually is in PLC. In general, it is my personal belief that to allow children growing up in a healthy way, we don’t have to isolate them away from bad things, we only need to expose them to good things in life, they are then able to handle the imperfections of the real world. Life is full of good things and not that good things. But still, life is beautiful!

When I was in 3rd grade in primary school, in the summer, I re-read the textbooks that I had just finished the previous semester. What I discovered is that I had forgotten almost all of them, even though I had just taken the tests and had very high scores on them. But reading those books again, I realized some content is actually quite useful and I was supposed to remember. So, from then on before every semester, I would rush through the textbooks of that semester very quickly, just to see what content I aught to learn from them. So during the classes, I only focused on those content, ignoring all the other details. This saved me a tremendous amount of time. But I know that I need to prepare a little extra just before the tests since the tests have their weird formats. You just need to memorize a bit more for the tests. For those things that you have to memorize for the tests, I don’t regret forgetting them at all after the tests. So in this way, learning is not stressful, and I still keep good grades.

When I see today’s kids in China, after they come back from school, they have to attend many other courses by those “educational” companies, and even their weekends are fully occupied by such courses. They don’t have any time and space for playing, the kind of playing I had as a kid, with many other kids and running around freely. They never had the time to read the textbooks by themselves, always following the teacher closely step by step. They have gone to many after-school courses but still can only achieve very low grades on school tests. What they need, is exactly the self-directed learning capability that you gain from playing naturally, which is what Paracraft Learning Center gives to them, even if it is just 2 hours a week. It is a free space for these children, where they can breathe.

So I feel the SDE Model of Paracraft Learning Center, designed based on the Sudbury Model, is an SDE model that can spread widely and expose a lot more families and children to SDE. It has been my work for the past 20 years making efforts to spread the Sudbury Model to all people, and making Sudbury Model an educational choice available to all families and children. In recent years, I found that youth software education might be the way to make the breakthrough and expedite the process. And Paracraft, the rich 3D programming software, is the best way to carry out this task. So we incorporated Paracraft and Sudbury Model together and started this Paracraft Learning Center model. It has been quite successful so far, drawing families of all backgrounds. And most of them never heard of SDE or Sudbury before. However, children love to do all kinds of things in Paracraft, so we have rich opportunities to do education with it.

To learn about the Paracraft Learning Center, you can go to :
http://paracraft.org/

Or read this essay:

Paracraft Learning Center

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Sports Learning 6 Word Tip

如今体育已经成为中考的必考科目,并且占比和语数英一样,都是100分。似乎应试是个无所不能的魔棒,把体育划入中考科目就能解决问题。因为现在的孩子们在应试教育里疲于奔命,都没有时间锻炼身体了,所以把体育也拉入应试里面去,这个办法似乎很聪明。

记得米卢做中国足球国家队主教练的时候,给中国足球开的药方就是“快乐”,要享受足球的快乐,要玩起来。否则每次大赛都被心理压力压得动作变形。

我下面结合足球讲一下运动项目的学习。其实各种运动项目的学习都是差不多的。

考试这东西,很多家长觉得不敢不把它当回事,但我觉得也别太把它当回事。你只要以提高自己的真实能力为基础,考试成绩也不会差的。过于单纯的追求考试成绩,不光很难取得理想的成绩,快乐和身体也没有了。

下面给大家总结了一个简单的五字口诀:“玩,悟,析,练,赛”

首先是玩起来。哪怕是刚开始踢球,会不会没关系。无所谓会不会。就是上去踢上一脚,享受这个快乐。你一定要享受足球。中国人的文化,太习惯了吃苦耐劳,在“享受快乐”这方面是比较差的。米卢给中国足球开的药方,不啻为给中国文化开的药方。

记得我在小区的草坪上练练颠球的时候有时会有小区里的小孩想跟我一起踢,但我发现上了10岁的小孩比较普遍的已经丧失了探索的快乐,他们很希望我告诉他们应该怎样传球,怎样的动作才是正确的,要我告诉他们脚应该怎么放,然后很努力要做“正确”,程式化非常明显。说真的,他们要求我这样教他们的时候,我感到无比的悲伤。

玩,就是先不要思考,只要有思考就会有偏差。放下所有的“想”,把念头空掉,直接去玩就好,让身体自己去感应,感应快乐。什么都不要想,玩吧!

有了丰富的玩的体验,下一步就是“悟”。不需要刻意,就是自然的根据自己的体验去“悟”就行了。只要你不是过于偏执于某件事上,“悟“是每个人自然的能力。

所以,就是在丰富的玩的体验上,简单的”悟“一下就好。怎么做能做得更好?如果你已经不思不想的玩了,还没有什么所悟的话,那你一定是过于偏执于什么了。

也有人喜欢把悟叫做不思考的思考。这么叫都没有关系。你需要明白这是直接的空间的感知。

“析”是分析。有时候,不光是悟,我们还需要动起脑子,做个分析推理。具体的分析一下原因,找解决的办法。


图:小马拉多纳颠球

比如上图中小马拉多纳这样不停的单脚颠球,如果要长时间的这样颠球,其实很关键的是另一只脚保持平衡的能力。如果另一只脚占不稳,很难长时间这样单脚颠球。

或者以前你习惯右脚踢球的,现在想训练左脚,发现左脚跟不会踢球的人一样很笨拙。这时你可以比较左右脚的不同。也许左脚缺乏力量,需要专门的做个力量的训练。或者是发现左脚不能像右脚一样很好的控制小肌肉。

有时候推理分析是需要的。但一般人的问题是过多的进行推理分析,而忽略了其他方面,比如“玩”和“悟”。实际上,“玩”和“悟”是本体,“析”只是在它们基础上的补充而已。大多数人的学习是本末倒置了。

有了上面的步骤,下面就是决定如何训练自己。

首先是根据“玩”和“悟”,找到这个运动的核心本质。足球的核心就是球感,两脚如何更好的控球。我喜欢的运动比较多,很多种运动下来,我可以总结出来,所有的运动都是训练相关的小肌肉与小脑之间的控制与协调。这是我尝试很多种运动后得出的结论。这样,每次开始尝试一个新的运动时,我能依此快速的找到这个运动的要旨。但是,即使你不是已经有这样的丰富的运动经验,如果你掌握了“玩”和“悟”,你也是可以快速的找到该运动的要旨的。

找到要旨后,比如既然足球的要旨是两脚的控球,那么颠球就是最好的训练方法。

之后,也许你又可以悟到足球是空间的艺术,并且必须在非常快的时间里完成对场上瞬息万变的状况的判断和动作的完成,那么空间感非常重要。

所以,可以尝试和不同类型的人踢球,踢不同空间密度的比赛,体验场上人少人多时的不同。这样去锻炼自己对空间的感觉。

看李小龙怎么练习武术的,他也是通过悟,然后针对武术的本质,自己创造了很多独特的训练方法。李小龙对武术的本质是把握的非常好的。比如他说我们都两手两脚的动物,所以我们的功夫只能是两手两脚的搏击。

在比赛中,大家都希望比对方做得更好。比如踢球,你快别人也想快。这样的竞技其实是可以创造无比的快乐的,也是最好的“练”和“玩”,不需要以过于功利的眼光去看待比赛。

以上大致是一个循环。在这样一个循环后,再次回到“玩”上面,回到这个初心,在更高的层面进一步享受玩的快乐。这点很重要,因为“赛”和“析”等很可能让你忘记了“玩”。不断的重复这个过程,就是很自然快速的学习方法。

学任何体育项目,都离不开“玩,悟,析,练,赛”这五个字

其实,还有第六个很重要的字“看”,就是多看,不光是看书,要看各种东西。尤其是要达到很高境界的,离不开多看。李小龙学功夫,就自己看了很多门派的功夫,还看了不少的书籍,包括哲学方面的书。马拉多纳也看自己的偶像们踢球,从中吸收营养。

“看”在互联网时代则更加重要,更加丰富。比如学习游泳,可以看看奥运冠军们游泳的样子。学习编程,也需要在互联网上海看,或者去书店海看。大家要深深的喜爱自己做的事情,由这个兴趣去驱动自己找各种东西来看,丰富自己的见识。

能把“看”和上面的五字诀很好的结合的人,学习任何东西都可以达到很深的境地。

“玩,悟,析,练,赛,看”这六字诀,如果你有足够的自学的经验,你就知道,这是适用于所有领域的学习的。 有的人自出生以来的思维习惯可能会擅长某几个方面而有其他方面的短板,好的教练就懂得如何因材施教去指点不同的人。

所以,体育其实可以让人学到很多东西,甚至超越自我

这六字里面,传统教育强调的都是在“析”的方面,过于强调“析”,这其实是工业化大生产带来的影响。一方面当时自然科学的诸多重大突破,把自然科学在人们心中的地位推到了至高的位置。另一方面,机械化大生产对人类社会心理产生巨大影响,逐渐日趋变得机械化。最重要的,则是现代教育为了服务机械化大生产,为了给机械化大生产培养大量的愿意在流水线上长时间做着单调机械的工作的工人,通过系统的设计,有意无意的用所谓的艰深的逻辑推理把大多数人淘汰掉(变成流水线工人)。

那么,在今天的更追求创造的知识经济时代,我们需要重新恢复这六字中的其他几个字,尤其是玩,悟,看这几个字。这三个字,其实都是空间的交互与感知,是学习的基础。“析”仅仅是辅助,并且“析”本身,也是建立在空间感知基础上的。

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Software, Life, and Education

我们说软件的数字化,其实就是在数字化生命,是一个不断识别生命创造生命的过程。所有的我们能够识别的东西都可以数字化。所有的我们能够识别的东西都是生命

软件就是生命,软件不断的创造生命。不光最终的软件或者产品是生命,软件开发中的建模本身就是识别生命创造生命的过程,建好的抽象模型就是数字化的生命,这个生命是动态的,还会继续的变化,根据实践中获得的反馈不断的改进,甚至演化出更多的层次。

所以软件编程可以说是一个识别我们物理世界或人类社会中的生命并将这些生命数字化的过程。软件就是数字化的生命。 那么什么是人工智能呢?人工智能是能够识别生命创造生命的数字化生命。这就是我认为人工智能应该有的定义。如今的人工智能还只是计算,谈不上对生命的识别。所以,人工智能的发展,首先应该是对生命或者说对生命中心的识别。有了这个最基础的能力,其他复杂的能力如解决问题能力,思辨能力,复杂系统诊断能力,学习能力,甚至创造能力都能发展出来。

我常说人生/每天只有三件事可做:玩,学习,创造!这就是生命的过程。可以说生命只做这三件事情。 正是因为软件编程就是这样的一个生命过程,我们可以看到编程其实就是一个玩,学习和创造的过程。编程中的抽象建模,就是要找到一个领域里的基本的积木或者说组件,让人们可以去搭建出来各种复杂的建筑或者其他的复杂生命体,如各种网页或者各种电商平台等等。找到基本的单元(学习),让人们可以玩起来(玩),用来搭建各种复杂的东西(创造),这个过程就正是学习,玩,和创造的过程。

真正的玩,一定是同时包含学习和创造的我们小时候不管玩什么总是期待能学到新的东西,如果学不到了,我们就会换一个东西玩。我们在玩的过程中也总是在尝试去创造,能够让我们大量创造的东西我们会觉得太神奇太好玩了。编程正是这样一个不断的学习新东西,去创造好玩的大家都可以用来创造的东西。并且这是一个实践,交互,获得反馈,不断改进的循环迭代的过程。这就是生命的过程,和我们每一个人的成长是一样的,必然包含了玩,学习和创造!

所以,编程教育从来就不应该是只教编程的教育。程序员都需要大量的学习,学习许多不同的领域。并且编程里的学习,必须是非常高效的学习。编程教育就是要教大家如何学习,实际上是引导大家回归小时候每个人或者说每个生命都有的学习能力,也就是在玩中自然学习的能力,并通过编程对这样的学习形成抽象的系统的认识且能有意识的高效的运用。所以编程教育是重建人类教育的教育,编程教育必然是生命教育。下面这段我们还会继续阐述这点。

编程教育也是重建艺术与科技的桥梁的教育,因为软件编程就是艺术与科技的桥梁,是人文学科与自然学科的桥梁,是人类世界与物理世界的桥梁由机械化生产和机器大生产催化的现代化进程,也是人类逐渐变得机械化和机器化的进程,为机器化大生产服务的教育尤其如此。 当你只需要在某个行业做操作性的工作时,你是不需要学习的,你只需要存储一些记忆,比机器高级一些,能够记住该行业很多的术语和操作步骤,成为高级的机器就可以了。我不是只指工厂里的工作,那个时代大部分的工作都是如此。但是软件编程这样的需要对人类生活和物理世界的方方面面进行数字化的工作,需要不断的进行新的领域的学习或者做更底层的抽象的理解,是需要很强的学习能力的。由软件催生出来的人类的数字化时代,创新成为重要的生产力来源,所以学习重新成为人类社会的重要需求
被现代化教育人为割裂以方便人们记忆的分门别类的学科重新需要互联互通。艺术与科技也绝不是鸿沟,更不应该让科技发展压制艺术与人文的发展,那是非常危险的进程。通过生命空间的感知,我们让科技成为艺术和人文的一部分,已经停滞多年没有重大突破的科学也会重新迎来发展的春天。

人类逐渐机械化机器化,不光是我们的教育深受影响,我们的科研也深受其害。这一方面是因为现代化进程中形成的现代教育扼杀人的学习能力和创造能力(用剥夺玩的方式,以所谓的“学习”的名义。名为学习,实为培训,培训高级机器人。),连爱因斯坦也说很庆幸自己没有被现代教育给扼杀掉。当然,爱因斯坦受教育时还在现代教育形成之初。到了今天已经相当成形的现代教育可能已经把所有的爱因斯坦扼杀光了。另一方面是因为催生现代化的人类近代自然科学,在当时可谓是光芒四射,取得了巨大的突破。人文科学开始普遍的采用自然科学的研究方法,尤其是非常生硬的要把所谓的人的主观完全排除出去,这样其实也就把人类的感知也排除掉了。提出生命中心的克里斯多夫亚历山大指出笛卡尔的主客观分离是现代科学发展的基础,也造成了现代科学的缺陷。他提出生命中心,正是要重建主客观的正确关系,在新的科学里将它们重新统一起来。作为建筑师的亚历山大对软件编程的发展影响极大,他对软件业的期待也非常大,认为程序员是真正能够实现他的思想的人。其实现代科学的发端,来自于文艺复兴里对艺术和人文的全面的追求和探索,科学作为这个探索的有机组成也蓬勃发展起来。但人类的进程,资本逐利的力量,在现代化进程中,让艺术人文与科技逐渐割裂开来,对生命的感知被广泛的忽视,在各个不同的领域,我们都可以看到生命的感知是如何被忽略的。比如大家普遍的把数学,物理,甚至编程这样的学科认为是需要很强“逻辑思维能力”的学科,所以很多人会很快的认为自己不擅长这些学科是因为自己的“逻辑思维”不强,自己更擅长艺术方面的学习。我最近看一本满是逻辑思维题的书,翻下来发现所有的题其实都是建立在空间感知基础上的,空间感知解决了80%甚至90%以上程度,然后最后一点就是他们说的所谓的那种线性的“逻辑思维”。这本书讲解的解题答案基本上是最后那百分之十几的逻辑部分,搞得好像这个思维很难,但是如果被忽略的空间感知和思维被采用,所有的题目都很容易。这种艺术与科技的分裂,正是现代科学的发展逐渐变得停滞多年缺少重大突破的一个重要原因。改变这个状况,就需要重新把对生命的感知带回来,重新建立艺术与科技之间的桥梁。软件作为数字化的生命,作为关于生命中心的科学,正是被亚历山大赋予厚望的原因。科学的进一步的飞跃,必须回到文艺复兴时期那样的艺术与科学的充分融合,我们需要我们这个时代的诸多的达芬奇。

当然,诞生于机器化大生产时代的计算机科学自身也深受其害。发明最短路径算法的Dijkstra说:太糟糕了,我们取了个这么糟糕的名字,计算机科学,就好像把脑科学叫做刀子的科学一样。所以今天的大学的计算机科学专业培养出来的大量的是不合格的程序员。在软件日益进入我们生活的方方面面的今天,对优秀的程序员的需求是个巨大的缺口。大学计算机专业培养的学生大多只能像普通工人一样完成些比较小的既定的任务,探索能力,设计能力,创造能力都很差。大量的行业需要的产品设计,项目管理人员竟然不是计算机科学专业毕业的,几乎没有写过一点代码,遑论对软件有好的理解。现代化教育的学科割裂在软件行业也制造了无数的灾难。

所以,编程教育首先要改变的是自己。而改变的路,就是向更广大的普通人群普及编程的教育。编程教育本身应该是素质教育,在向普罗大众科普编程的过程中,我们才能改变它被命名为计算机科学以后带来的种种错误的公众形象,找到它真正的实质。首先,编程的学习可以很简单。
只要让人们能够玩起来。现在的编程学习是人为的被弄的太难了。其次,每个人都需要学习编程,但不是每个人都需要成为职业的程序员,每天大量的写代码。软件行业有大量的职位,产品,设计,管理,学点编程都能帮助你1000倍的更好的做这些事情。

我们前面说软件就是生命,催生了以大量创造生命为特征的人类数字化时代,从而带来了改变现代教育的社会基础时代基础,现代化进程中形成的教室教材教师三位一体的现代教育到了不得不改变的时候。本身需要大量学习的编程,通过编程教育,也将开启重建人类教育的进程。从改变编程教育开始,人类百年来的自主教育积累下来的丰富经验,将会被数字化,形成更为本质和系统的理解,这些软件会成为未来教育的基础设施。这些才是我们需要的教育软件!在编程教育中,人们将接触到学习的实质,如何通过抽象建模去学习,并将学习获得的理解变成可以用于搭建的好玩的抽象模型,甚至编程本身就是学习本身,通过编程去学习各个领域的知识,学科的隔阂都会被打破。

对生命大量数字化的编程,也让我们对生命有了更本质的理解。这些理解,会帮助我们做好编程教育,在理论上和软件基础上,成为未来教育的基石,帮助教育回归生命本身!

对生命大量数字化的编程,逐渐让人类走进以丰富生命为目标的时代。现在我们还只是在数字化普通的生命,还未能数字化出来能够识别生命的生命能够创造生命的生命,那将真正开启人类的人工智能时代。今天我们做的编程教育,就是在为之做的大量的准备工作。让教育回归生命,构建关于生命的理论体系,都是基础的准备工作。当人工智能能够识别生命创造生命时,人类创造生命的进程会大大加速,我们可以去探索宇宙的一切奥妙。作为逆熵而生的生命,从一开始我们就开始了对抗宇宙熵增的进程。这场抗争,发展到高级生命的人类的今天,似乎仍然是无可避免的走向失败的宿命,宇宙最终还是会毁灭的。除非我们创造生命的能力,已经可以创造宇宙!谁说那又是不可能的呢?也许生命能够逃避最终归于混沌的宿命,成功的完成对抗宇宙的使命!

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Best Software Learning Platform

本文目前只有中文版。

在安格指导学生学习编程。学习编程的人不多。虽然表示对编程学习有兴趣的人比较多,但大多数人似乎都因为传统的对编程的刻板印象,以为学编程就是跟机器打交道,而大多数人是畏惧机器的,所以并没有进入真的编程学习阶段。

我一直认为每个人都应该学习编程,希望能够普及编程教育。编程其实不难,但是现在大家学编程,从一开始就给学生灌输很多和机器相关的概念,而大多数人对机器并不感兴趣,所以变成只有对机器感兴趣的人才会去学。另外,传统的观念,主要的强调编程里的算法或者所谓的逻辑推理,也把大多数人拒之门外。

发明最短路径算法的Dijkstra说:太糟糕了,我们给这门科学取了个这样的名字:“计算机科学”,这就好像把脑科学叫做“手术刀的科学”一样本末倒置。我们今天终于可以看到这个危害的结果。


图:发明最短路径算法的Dijkstra

真正学过理工科的同学都知道,计算机科学/软件编程绝不是门单纯的理工科。在我看来,它是人文学科和自然学科之间的桥梁,是人类世界与物理世界之间的桥梁。这是软件编程真正吸引人的所在。互联网之父Bill Joy就深情的描述过他第一次接触编程时那种看着思想转化成可以在机器上运行的代码并显示出结果的美妙感觉,这也正是他对软件编程一见钟情的原因。Python之父Guido则主张,软件编程是人类继写作(即书面表达)后发明的更深刻和优越的思想表达工具,是新形式的知识载体,每一个人都应该学会编程,编程会成为未来评估文盲的标准。


图:互联网之父Bill Joy

那么普通人如何学习编程呢?我觉得最好一开始的编程不要和机器相关。我们需要找到一个大多数人可以玩起来的“玩地”,而大多数人对机器是不感兴趣的。

那么大多数成人都感兴趣的是什么?在每个国家,社交网都是大众最普遍使用的软件,比如微信,微博,facebook, twitter。所以我觉得成年人学习编程的玩地应该是管理他们的社交人际关系,资讯和知识的获取。另外要让他们脱离机器来学习编程,那么就应该让他们在网页上进行编程,比如有网页版的在线编辑器,可以写一些简单的代码,初步体验编程。

比如,我可以在朋友圈或者微信群里发小的编程示例,大家在上面直接就可以开始尝试些编程。这是大家比较熟悉和方便的方式。

大家可以在网页上编程来管理自己的人际关系和获取的信息,可以把搭建好的程序分享出来给大家。平台会提供基础的编程指令,用以对人际关系或者资讯做基本的操作。大家可以用这些指令来编程。普通人都可以很方便的尝试编程,有很强兴趣和天分的可以搭出自己的微信或者facebook出来。比较困难的网络连接和高并发,平台或者编程语言本身会自带相当程度的解决方案,网络编程和高并发不会成为普通人搭建大规模应用的瓶颈。

其实web2.0时代也有些类似的让普通人可以“编程”的平台,如yahoo的pipe。 让大多数人能够编程从而更好的享受互联网带来的种种便利,也是大家当时共同的认识。但是当时很多的做法,只是让普通人对数据的简单操作,并且排斥了编程语言,不敢让大众学习编程语言。不使用编程语言的话,能做的事情很少,也很不方便。那个时代(大概05,06年),学习编程语言可能还是大众比较难接受的事情。但今天,大众心理上已经强烈的感受到学习编程的需求,只是大多数编程学习要求他们去学习大量的机器,并且一开始就要学机器,所以很多人虽然想学,但视为畏途,把很多对编程感兴趣的人挡在了门外。所以,今天,应该可以让大众们在社交和资讯获取领域找到他们可以学习编程的“玩地”。并且,使用编程语言来编程,他们是可以打造出微信,facebook这样的大的应用出来的。

这将是个非常好的互联网生态,非常丰富和健康。平台只提供编程基础设施,提供丰富的基本的组件。大家想要怎么管理自己的社交关系或资讯,都可以用自己的方式去管理。不用像今天这样,受制于微信,facebook。拥有自己的信息,拥有自己的应用!

以上讲的主要还是管理个人的人际关系和资讯,也就是人和信息。其实再深一些,就是知识,也就是对“重要体验”的管理。让大家通过编程把重要体验玩起来,去扩展,分享和交互。这就是未来真正的知识平台。

到时,大家拥有的就是一个真正可编程的世界!

每一个人都应该学习编程,但不是每一个人都要成为职业的程序员。今天软件行业里大量的软件管理人员和产品设计人员等等,都没有什么编程经验,技术人员与产品人员之间的沟通有着巨大的鸿沟,很大程度上影响着软件行业的健康发展。我们认为这是很不正常的,问题的根源就在于我们的编程教育把大多数人挡在了门外。而我们这里设想的,通过更好的面向大众的编程教育,不光可以让普通人都能够更好的获取互联网带来的力量,让互联网摆脱今天的巨头垄断的沉闷局面,也可以解决软件行业最大的问题,让软件行业走向健康发展的道路。

所以,总结一下,一个好的编程学习平台,应该是大家都很熟悉的领域,和每个人的生活相关,大家喜欢去学,愿意去学,有基本的指令和组件,可以通过编程在里面进行各种创造。最好平台或者编程语言本身已经解决了大部分的网络连接和高并发的问题,让用户可以更专注在他们熟悉的领域。

儿童最好的编程学习平台

那么,我们再来看儿童编程学习,Paracraft正是满足了这些条件。

孩子们非常热爱搭建,喜欢创造,尤其是带有美术的创作。这些就是Paracraft的3D世界给孩子们提供的“玩地”。创作出来的作品可以分享,他人可以欣赏并重复使用。

而Paracraft所基于的NPL语言,本身就是模拟人类大脑高并发工作原理的编程语言,用户不需要了解太多的网络底层和高并发细节的知识,就可以创造高并发的网络应用,这也在很大程度上让孩子们不是必须先大量了解机器才能学习编程,普通的孩子就可以创造出大规模的网络应用。

我们的期望,同上述的成人世界的编程学习一样,未来孩子们可以创造出无数的“并行世界”(ParaWorld),教育者们也可以为孩子们设计出各种富有教育意义的世界,比如学习生物,数学,物理,古诗词的3D世界等等。

同样的,Paracraft未来也会是儿童最好的社区,是儿童的可编程世界!

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