I received a comment on one of my posts, suggesting I take a look at Logo.
“You should have a look at LOGO, the turtle graphics language. Here is a link to a very good site for this, with interactive action”: http://turtleacademy.com/index.php (Comparing Logo to Ruby, he goes on) “The Logo turtle graphics is more fun, and will develop your understanding very quickly. It will do arithmetic, but its main purpose is to move a “turtle” around the screen, drawing or just moving, by specified amounts. the tutorial stuff is excellent.”
This is why I love crowdsourcing! I never would have thought of Logo, but I remember it! I think I was exposed to it sometime in middle or high school the 90s. I can’t remember too many details, but the memory is enough to give me SOME kind of reference point for this thing called coding.
I took the advice and started playing with this little tutorial, and realized this was perfect because it really taps into interest-based learning for me.
First of all, it’s “vintage”.
I like vintage stuff much more than things that are shiny and new. In general, vintage things are more colorful, more interesting, higher quality, and represent a story. In particular, vintage things from the 80’s and 90’s often carry qualities I can connect to personally because those were my childhood & adolescent years. Vague memories of sitting around a computer with my friends taking turns making a little “turtle” move around a screen have roughly the same frame of reference as memories of watching Madonna and Guns and Roses videos on MTV. Much like Starter Jackets, Hypercolor t-shirts, slap bracelets, New Kids on the Block tapes and reruns of Beverly Hills 90210, Logo transports me back to a different time in my life, which adds a breath of fresh air to my personal coding challenge.
Further, Logo is about drawing. I love drawing! The commands I type in have an immediate, graphic result and I can see and feel the immediate output.
Also, it deals with geometry. I have talked on this site before about how Algebra was always challenging for me because it is so abstract. I had a hard time in school understanding the “why” of algebra problems. Well…geometry has always been a different story! I have always liked geometry, and feel decent at it, and I think it’s because there is usually an immediately applicable and visual component to geometry.
Within the first 10 minutes of playing around with the Logo tutorial, I made this shape! …since then, I’ve learned that there is a much easier way. Nonetheless, I felt a serious sense of accomplishment!
As I’ve grown into adulthood and studied learning theory in my teaching career, I’ve learned about multiple intelligences and different learning styles. Everyone learns differently, and that’s neither good or bad, but just IS. I’ve discovered that I’m extremely visual-spatial as a learner.
Here’s a quick example: If I go somewhere once, I can pretty much always find my way back. I’ve tested this by finding once-visited landmarks in random cities based on childhood memories. Could I describe instructions to get to those places, including street names and right/left turns? Nope! (much to the chagrin of my husband, who can’t stand that I am unable to logically explain my intuitions). I just feel the space with my body and my brain does the work. This speaks to a broader pattern of learning and understanding that I use in lots of areas of my life. Geometry speaks to and draws upon this visual-spatial intelligence. Algebra does not.
It’s like learning to write: You can learn letters, numbers, and words. However, it’s really when you start using sentences to communicate that writing becomes interesting, fun, and intuitive (passing notes in class comes to mind). If all we ever did with writing was practice lists of spelling words and write arbitrary sentences on worksheets, I’m pretty sure no one would ever want to do it. Writing has a point, and coding in Ruby or Java does too. I just need to figure out what the point is!
What is your learning style, and how has it helped you learn to code or do other neat stuff? Leave a comment, I’d love to know!