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Librarian Blog

Kidst must code?

When I was in the Army back in 1970, I took a correspondence course on computer programming (and much more), thinking that having some kind of intimate knowledge of computers should some day pay off.

The course was very technical, and the deeper I got into it, the more I wondered just how practical what I was learning would be in the long haul. Eventually, I concluded that, like so many other things in life, I didn't need a thorough understanding of how computers worked to make them work for me. I just had to buy the right one.

Over the weekend, I was reading about how important it is (or will be) for kids to know how to code computer programs.

And I see that the Chicago library is now offering to let patrons check out a robot called The Finch, developed by Carnegie Mellon University to teach kids about coding.

Really? How many kids will work in a job that requires them to know how to code? One out of 10? One of 100? One of 1,000?

I've tried coding. It's boring. It's tedious. It's not for everybody.

Would kids be better off reading a good book? Learning Latin? Practicing their multiplication tables?

All the signs are there

Free speech in almost all sectors is now under attack in Russia.

News media are the latest to be censored by Putin's regime.

Before that, a law came up that would ban the use of obscenity in art, cultural and entertainment events. So, what, exactly, is obscene to Putin's government?

In April, a measure passed banning swearing in the media. Not sure what swearing is, either. "Gosh!" "Egad!" "Dang!" "Darn!" "Damn!"

And so it goes. Remember the warnings of one of our country's most prominent jurists: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Really?

There's just something a little wacky about this study:

Patricia Ganea, a Canadian psychologist, has concluded that toddlers who look at books containing cartoon-like depictions of animals doing all kinds of things that their counterparts in the real world would not do hamper the kids' ability to learn.

Her study is written up in the Sunday New York Times magazine.

So, really?

Tell me what kids learned after reading "The Giving Tree." Did they come to believe that trees talk and express empathy?

What did kids who watched "Bambi" learn about deer?

I probably need to see who Ganea used for a control group, among other things.

But, I'm thinking that her conclusions are so far off the rational mark that I'd be wasting my time.

And another thing ...

Following up with more thoughts about that study I mentioned in Monday's blog:

The study conclusion was that children are harmed when they read those little books that have talking monkeys or things like that.

The underlying premise seems to be that kids are harmed when presented fiction.

So ... what should we do about zoos -- where animals do very unnatural things?

Or places like Sea World?

Just asking.

Hard to search

Why do public institutions in Texas make it so hard for people to apply for jobs with them?

A man who grew up and lived most of his life in Louisiana moved here recently, and he has been coming to the library every day to use one of our public-access computers.

I struck up a conversation with him some time back and discovered that he was a coach and teacher in Louisiana and is trying to find a coaching and/or teaching job in this area. To do so, he must find an opening and then apply online to every individual school or district. Each resume-building websiste is different, so there is no cutting and pasting. In his home state, he told me, there is a central repository for his resume and it can be uploaded from there to any district because they all accept a single style and type.

Why can't Texas have something like that?

When I "retired" back in 2007, I started looking for a job in the Austin area in state government. Every agency had its own resume requirements, and every one of them I talked to said they would not take a paper resume. The job application had to be filled out onliine.

At that point I was in my early 60s, and I had a work history dating back to age 12. To be thorough, I wanted to include all those jobs, and there were a ton. For example, I worked in four restaurants during high school alone.

So, why can't state agencies use one resume or application form, and why can't a job-seeker cut and paste?

Why are Texans making it so hard?