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Re: [debian-jr] Getting started on some work: Applications

On Fri, 18 Feb 2000, Andreas Tille wrote:
> > gimp         a bit complex for the 5yo, and even the older ones, but
> >              they all do have fun with it
> I think they will soon catch the philosophy if you do the first sessions
> together with them.


> > xpaint       not quite as complex as the gimp, but a bit clunky in the GUI
> >              and not nearly as dazzling effects
> Don't know, but I'd prefer teaching one thing (because two different leads
> to confusion) and why not *the best* (=Gimp) :-).  But agreed if you
> like that.

I don't know.  Having tried both, sometimes the children will want to play
with the gimp because it produces interesting effects not available in
xpaint (like using the clone tool with patterns).  But sometimes they'll
want to use xpaint, perhaps because the toolbar is easier to use, or the
number of options is not as overwhelming, or you don't have to descend
through a bunch of menus to find what you want.  One thing I observed very
early on is that in xpaint, they love playing with the pixmap brush editor
that allows them to express their creativity in a very simple, bounded
space (a small fixed-size grid of blocky pixels).  At first, my children
liked to just manipulate tiny images in this space as a little "canvas",
where the goal seemed to be just to make an interesting pattern with the
pixels.  As an adult user, I perhaps missed this when I pointed out that
the purpose of this tool was not to paint pictures, but to design
paintbrushes, and then use them to paint the pattern you just created.
Although they enjoyed this activity as well, the point I had missed is
that there is an enjoyment that comes from working in a constrained
environment like a pixmap editor where you can precisely position each
pixel that is lost when you "scale up" to a full-sized canvas.  You can
achieve a precision in this environment that is difficult to achieve with
crayon and paper, which perhaps is why my children would chose to spend
their entire xpaint session in the brush editor. :) 

> > pico    I think I could switch them to nano now and they won't miss
> >         too much the features that aren't done yet
> Hmm, yes nano would be better.  But personally I would like mcedit
> (part of mc) much more.  I use pine with vi (and just changed it to
> mcedit to try that combination :-) ).  Moreover I like mc very much
> and would like to give the children a good understanding in filesystems.
> So I would like to add mc to your list - but others might disagree.
> At least my son works well with it.

I'm sure many editors would do.  As with adults, different children will
have their different preferences for various reasons.  Our goal should to
be inclusive, not exclusive.  So dissenting opinions don't count. ;)  By
all means, if your son likes mc and mcedit, we should add it to the list,
along with any helpful commentary.

> > xmame   Unfortunately it looks like this will forever be non-free,
> >         the license is really ugly.
> Don't know that.  I have no general problem in including non-free
> software, because sooner or later there will be non-free teaching
> software and we should not reject it - even if we try to enforce people
> to make it free.


> > p.p.s. if you haven't subscribed to "kidsgames" or "seul-edu" (pointers
> >        are on the debian-jr web page), and have some time to read this
> >        leasts, or at least look at the archives, please do check them
> >        out
> I subscribed to a German school related linux list but there is
> less traffic.  In how far the lists you mentioned are different?
> Shouldn't it be better to discuss in *one* list?

We're not in the business of writing software.  Kids Games is.  We're not
in the business of making a "Linux for Education".  SEUL/edu is.  However,
we do want to package games and educational software for children.  Being
on these mailing lists helps us to be aware of new developments.  It also
provides us with a place to raise issues that are not Debian-specific but
which have a bearing on Debian-Jr.  It helps to keep us from solving (or
attempting to solve) problems others have already done elsewhere.  And I
think we may be able to contribute in small ways to these projects without
expending too much effort.  The end result is not only that the other
project benefits, but we benefit inasmuch as we make use of what those
projects produce. 

    nSLUG       http://www.nslug.ns.ca      synrg@sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
    Debian      http://www.debian.org       synrg@debian.org
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