Re: Debian for kids (long)
On Wed, 2 Feb 2000, Ben Armstrong wrote:
> I'm glad to see there is some interest.
> I'm not sure at this point if
> there needs to be a list to discuss "Debian for kids" issues. In fact,
> it's probably not a good idea initially, as having discussions on this
> list may attract more interest. But I hope that eventually we can be our
> own subgroup with a list and some web space on www.debian.org in the
> developers area. In fact, I think I'll start by plunking things down
> in my home dir on master, once I have collected enough ideas from this
> "Debian for kids" group
> This sort of issue is probably best dealt with by documentation (for
> parents who are sys admins, I mean). A sort of "Kids and Linux howto"
> that can be contributed back to the LDP. I think I'm a good documentor,
> and would gladly volunteer to write and maintain such a document if we
> think it's a good idea.
I can't speak for "we", but for "me" :): I like this idea.
> The purpose of such a document would not be to
> duplicate documentation that is better explained elsewhere, but rather to
> provide a tick-list ... a starting point for parents thinking about making
> their Linux systems accessible to their kids.
> Sifting through themes can be a very time-consuming task. I am sure we
> could save parents some time by reviewing what is out there and finding
> what our kids like best and what works best for them. Then we could
> package a handful of them, again as just a starting point for parents &
> Naturally, kids are going to want to customize their desktops as
> much as parents enjoy doing. I think if we could help themes.org
> categorize some "kid-friendly" themes, rather than go on a theme-packaging
> rampage, our efforts would benefit a broader range of people and not be
> Debian-centric. If we can get something started, other people will be
> happy, I am sure, to make further contributions to themes.org in that
> category. Of course, the older kids are going to want to check out
> themes.org in general, and not just look in the "kids" area, so when I say
> "kids" I really mean the young ones who don't have the patience or skill
> to browse through such a huge site.
Please be careful: Design is a hard job. I'm not really sure if a
desktop design developed by a kid is well suited for kids. Don't understand
me wrong that I do not rate the skills of a kid right. But look: There
are so many people who think they could do good paperworks with their
fancy wordprocessors and they like their strange font very much. They could
not imagine that others consider it to be ugly.
So I would say that we take kids as "testers" for such designs instead
> Good point! Programming languages were an integral part of shaping my
> ... [logo]
Hmmm, personally I thought about how to teach my son programming
techniques. In my opinion I could teach best if I know the programming
language myself well. This reduces the set of possibilities quite
much. In the end I thougt that C has proven to be good over several
years and coding simple algorithms is no problem. The more tricky things
can be done later.
The question is: What algorithms?
OK, children want to play. That's why a game seems to be apropriate.
I found the simple game "Schiffe versenken" [German = guess coordinates
of ships in a 2 dimensional field].
A raw input and output on text console works yet. The first primitive
game is ready and can be played. Now we have to teach
the rules better (how to place the ships) and do some friendlier
userinterface. First I discuss the algorithm and tell my son where
to write what. He is typing himself. Sometimes I ask him for
suggestions what to do next and let him implement his suggestions
even if they are wrong. After getting an error I explain why it
We do such sessions once a week for about one or two hours.
> On Wed, 2 Feb 2000, Andreas Tille wrote:
> > mv passwd.bak passwd into /etc/cron.daily ??
May be I should have substituted "??" by :-))?
> - fixing docs for programs that would otherwise be suitable for kids
> except the docs are poorly written, non-existent, or hard to find
> (e.g. no "help" menu provided)
> - kid-friendly tools for developing keyboarding skills ("lletters"
> has already been mentioned, and I maintain "typist" but it is
> a bit trickier for kids and less fun, though there's no reason
> it couldn't be improved to be more kid-friendly)
> - speech interfaces (i mentioned CMU Sphinx already ... programs
> that speak & listen are standard fare on Windows now. we need
> more of this sort of thing)
Disagreed. In my opinion this is importand for the future but
kids who are familiar with "the basics" can cope with this things
easily. I want to teach my son to *work* with a computer and to
make him feel that it is a *tool* not a *game*. This can be done
by playing to get some skills but speaking & listening he can
learn better by playing with his friends or talking to his grandma.
> > Even the wumpus game, which I tried some days ago with him made him
> > trouble at first time.
> Sorry to hear that. Frustrating I am sure.
I think about translating the few text lines and may be I'll extract
a bsd-i18n-wumpus or bsd-i18n-games from the bsdgames to make the first
> > As a consequence I started to collect a German fortune database which
> > now has more than 4000 cookies and jokes now. An ITP will come soon
> > (it's packaged but I want to here some response from some German
> > developers first).
Hope so :)
> Not so easy for me. Reader Rabbit really is superior educational kids
> software as far as the "multimedia experience" goes. My intent is not
> to shield kids from better Windows software that is out there, but to
> give them a broad exposure to computers and software of all sorts. So
> I won't be eliminating Windows.
Not to have any Win 9x at home is more or less a pragmatic decision:
I have no time to maintain two different systems. Win 9x needs
maintainance, but if there is near zero usage for it why should I
do that? I don't know any program that I would consider to be
*necessary* for my son. May be this is a lack of knowledge ...
> Ah yes, xteddy. We very much enjoyed that. :) I believe I set it up
> on the kids accounts, but lately they've been distracted from it by
> their Windows games (they got a few for Christmas) and more recently,
> xmame. As we come across more artwork, we'll be sure to submit it to
I'm looking foreward ...
> But let's not get distracted from the first task at hand ... if this is
> going to be an organized collective effort, let's put together a plan, put
> up some web pages, and get the ball rolling towards meeting some specific
I think it would help very much to set up a simple Web-Site which
list all kids related Debian packages (links to the package description)
on one side and not packaged things on the other side. If this is done
things will move from the wrong side to the right side step by step
sooner or later.