Computational Thinking and Didactics: New Horizons

Computational Thinking and Didactics: New Horizons

Maria Luisa Nardi (Independent Researcher, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7126-2.ch010
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The failures and problems of school education today are caused by many factors, stemming from the bias of behaviorism that the teacher is burdened with, as well as being the result of changes in the way of thinking of new generations, often caused by the negative impact of technology – its source is usually in the process of teaching and growth itself. Computational thinking allows us to take complex problems, understand what the problem is, and develop solutions. We can present these solutions in a way that both computers and people can understand.
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One of the typical problems encountered in teaching, in particular in mathematics and other scientific subjects, is the student's excessive expectation of receiving specific instructions from the teacher to solve the problem - a step-by-step guide. Today's students, people belonging to Generation Z, expect immediate information, indicating how to solve the problem, along with quick results, are not prone to mental effort and have difficulty to relate to the reality of the tasks around them.

The expression “computational thinking” was first introduced in 1996 by Seymour Papert, while describing LOGO, the language of programming developed by MIT to teach programming for children. A decade later, in 2006 she was the scientist computer science Jeannette Wing to take up the concept, defining it as a mental process that underlies the formulation of problems and their solutions, so that the solutions are represented in a form that can be implemented in an effective by an information processor, be it human or artificial, suggesting to look at thought computational as a fourth basic skill (together with reading, writing and calculating), essential for everyone, in everyday life.

Over the past three decades, numerous studies in Programming Psychology have been carried out. They are works halfway between computer science and cognitive psychology, with the aim of evaluating and improving the tools at their disposal based on the cognitive effects of these tools. Wanting to make computer science accessible to all, of particular interest are studies on misconceptions, which deal with finding concepts that are misunderstood by novice programmers, and studies on commonsense computing, which try to understand how people who have never received notions of programming and, more generally, of computer science, express (in natural language) concepts and computational processes.

In ancient Greece the concept of game assumed a specific characteristics. It was linked to the concepts of competition (Agón) and imitation (Mìmesis). Agón, or conflict, competition, competition, represented one of the ways of considering the game. The same Greek gods played with humans on earth to put them in physical or social competition with each other, and men created sporting versions of actual conflicts - throwing javelins, heavy stones, or arrows - to determine which individual or community had. the support of the gods. Mimesis, understood as the imaginary or dramatic staging by adults or children, included a disparate number of representational forms and was a precise form of worship aimed at imitating the gods. Imitative, interpretative or expressive, mimesis provided for acting out of the ordinary and was seen as an approach of human beings to the gods to seek their favor.

There are testimonies of the London of the thirteenth century that report the events of the elderly and young people, on the Sunday of Lent, gathering in the fields to fight for play.

During the Enlightenment and Romanticism, thinkers like John Locke, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich von Schiller resumed examining the human mind. The game was considered within the reflection on science, morality and art or as the foundation of rationality, or as the root of the irrational or spirituality.

The links between play and rational thinking led to the creation of detailed descriptions of what play should be for children and was elevated by educators and philosophers, such as Friedrich Fröbel, and even before that his teacher Pestalozzi339, to a activity carried out with playful and specific objects, suitable for shaping and modeling the body, mind, morals and spirit.

In the “children's gardens”, that is the institutes founded by Fröbel in which the free growth of children and the acquisition of specific basic learning were guaranteed, play was considered a fundamental element of expression and knowledge. The same gardens were suitably equipped for playful activities and in them, in Montessori style, there were different types of games including geometric solids, which had the aim of promoting the intuition of the forms found in nature by recalling the essential structures of the world. In this sense, the game was aimed at the process of development and global education of children and considered as an “industrious doing”.

Herbert Spencer, for example, revisited Schiller's notion of play, as an excess of energy, and transformed it into a psychological version of Darwin's ideas on adaptation. According to this reading, excess energy feeds instincts that help natural selection: fighting games were associated with the need for social domination; group games were associated with the need for social interaction; the artistic / aesthetic game was linked to the improvement of symbolic abilities.

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