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Eric Charles
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Dr. Weitzman, great post! To answer some of the comment questions, many arise from a confusion about what language is and what qualities are needed to perform that function. Chomsky views language as being fundamentally about following "rules" and making "correct" sentences, but that a weirdly modern and intellectual view. Skinner is working within a naturalist tradition. For Skinner, language is about social interaction. This issue is not whether one forms a grammatically correct sentence, but about the effect one's sentence has on another person. In Skinner's system there is no way to declare a linguistic move "right" or "wrong" except to observe its effects on other people. If a hungry person asks for food and gets it, using the utterance "Soup, it is, food, the please, soup now need.", who the hell is Chomsky to criticize the person for lacking proper grammar. If the sentence was issued by someone deprived of food, and the result is that a social partner brought food for the person to eat, then language served its proper function. To make an analogy, imagine if we applied the same logic to music. A Chomsky-esque analysis would take the highly formalized rules of western music from the renaissance and declare that music was "about" following those rules. By that criterion improvisational jazz and virtually any non-western form of music would not be "grammatically valid". Ick.
I am not a professional programmer, but I am a professional educator who knows how to program. I think that there are good arguments to be made for treating programming as a basic skill, to be incorporated in most higher-education systems. A few good reasons (inspired by this post) can be found here:
Toggle Commented May 16, 2012 on Please Don't Learn to Code at Coding Horror
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May 16, 2012