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back to article Vietnamese high school kids can pass Google interview

Google engineer Neil Fraser got a bit of a surprise when he visited Vietnam recently to see how schools teach ICT: kids in 11th grade are capable of passing the Chocolate Factory’s notoriously difficult interview process. Fraser blogged about his trip (via TNW), which ostensibly seems to have been a fact-finding mission …

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Most kids just want a cruisy ICT course to get easy credits: eg. demonstrate vague proficiency in using MSWord. Doing challenging programming is hard.

And with the sense of entitlement felt by the modern generations, all they need computers for is to access www.dole-r-us.govt.uk and Facebook.

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"Most kids just want a cruisy ICT course to get easy credits"

While this is true, it is also all that is normally offered. At one point back in the late 80's, 7th graders in the USA were learning extensive Basic programming, however that trend seemingly vanished very peculiarly after 9 months.

Kids can learn extremely fast. While I don't think a nationality dictates a child's learning capability, I do think adults of a nationality decide its growth. Once the child is no longer a child, and if given a chance, I do believe they will choose their own desired subjects for learning. Of course due to Vietnam's economy, we could be witnessing the birth of a country with the lowest priced outsourcing the world has ever seen.

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Most teachers, school executives and local education authorities - "just want a cruisy ICT course to get easy credits"

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Anonymous Coward

Are all the XP discs licenced......... Or not?

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Anonymous Coward

Most kids just want a cruisy ICT course to get easy credits: eg. demonstrate vague proficiency in using MSWord. Doing challenging programming is hard.

You can't make such a universal statement - the challenge is to make learning fun. Kids can absorb stuff that interests them at speeds that continue to astound me, whereas boring stuff doesn't sink in. Good teachers know this. Good MS Office teachers are aplenty, but good ICT teachers are thin on the ground.

I have yet to come across a kid that wasn't curious as to what lives inside a box (ANY box :) ), so the simple act of taking a PC apart can get the whole class around you in seconds, especially in an age where everything else now comes as a sealed package.

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Are all the XP discs licenced......... Or not?

My employer has a legal OEM copy of XP but it is a rarity.

Most of us just pop down to our local copy shop and order what we need and it is sold on DVS for a whopping VN Dong 40,000 (GBR1.26/USD$1.91) which is a fair rate for software over 10 years old.

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Happy

@MyBackDoor

Hitachi has, repeatedly, hired complete course graduate students emerging from VN computing courses for a number of years.

Guess that speaks for itself.

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WTF?

Re:

Probably not, but who gives a shit? Certainly not me...

I'd imagine MS would prefer the kids use XP rather than Linux.

Call it a loss-leader

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Joke

That's OK...

The USA is still #1 in:

Nukes

Knives

Sharp Sticks

(Homage to Aliens, hehehehe)

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Re: That's OK...

Actually, I think the Vietnamese showed the US how much better they were with knives and sharp sticks about fifty years ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's OK...

The USA is still #1 in:

Nukes

Knives

Sharp Sticks

If you're talking about US *schools*, you forgot guns :(

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Meh

Re: That's OK...

That's just because we were trying that "nation building" thing: We are really bad at that. Nation destroying on the other hand, we are much better at that.

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Coat

Re: Nation-building

Can't you just film the destruction and play it backwards?

GJC

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Re: That's OK...

Yep usually killing 2.5 million of them and losing 60k of you is a win unless of course you are trying to win hearts and minds by killing all their relatives.

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Re: That's OK...

As for the "guns" think, Hudson didn't mention "guns", hehehe. But, then, I botched it by throwing in "That's ok... the USA is still #1...", good catch!

And, how right you are about that. I was in Yongsan last year, at the Korea War Memorial. I was somewhat shocked and humored at how efficient, crafty, "devious", and cunning the VC were with their tunnels. Sure, I've seen of them in movies, but the dioramas and plexiglas display models in the Memorial really hit home. My first thoughts were "SO, THIS is how the USA got its ass handed to it on a plate in Vietnam...." It was sobering. Result: napalm, tunnel bombs, and carpet bombing. And, STILL the USA had to retreat.

Fast Forward decades later, and we see that for all the freedoms and freedom of choice we have here, Vietnam is probably producing more QUALITY programmers than many countries.

It would be interesting, though to compare Chinese programmers or teens to the Vietnamese of the same schooling and age ranges. Then, compare Indian programmers. I understand that Indian programmers have HUGE egos. A female dev exposing bugs and flaws in Indian male coders' work can touch off a mild hemispherical war. I wonder how Vietnamese male and female devs in the work place (in any country where male and female Vietnamese devs predominate) play out in offices.

Now, juxtapose that to the US H-1B Visa thing. Decades, ago, the USA was trying to liberate Vietnamese. Nowa, the USA may need Vietnamese to liberate or "survivarate" the USA. Interesting....

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: That's OK...

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooood morning, Vietnam!

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Anonymous Coward

"If nothing else, this snapshot into the Vietnamese school system shows what can be done despite limited funds."

Don't forget software piracy which as of two weeks ago, the rate was down to 80% compared to 82% in 2011.

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Anonymous Coward

Software piracy as a metric?

Um, yeah... Keep up that "what's best for America's megacorporations is what's best for innovation" mantra, sit back on your arse voting for political platforms based on cutting education funding, and watch the whole country slide into irrelevance along with Microsoft, as East Asia takes over the world economy.

Jeeze, is it SO difficult to figure out the connection between education and economic growth?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Software piracy as a metric?

Doesn't the Vietnamese just show that educational funding could be cut and still get better results?

1) You have schools that have campus wide WiFi, laptops and tablets are used as well.

2) High speed Internet access is available and the students have remote access.

The problem is not how much money is spent on education, but how it is spent. You have high schools spending tens of millions of dollars on stadiums. I now of two stadiums for high school use that have costs$60 and $70 million respectively. Obviously the money for education is not being spent wisely.

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Re: Software piracy as a metric?

That would be nice idea if it was not for the culture difference. Foot ball is an an easy draw for out side money. Take a look to see how much that money came from out side boosters to build that stadium. Now ask them for money to build a science lab or better library. thos some outside people will tell you to take a hike.

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why xp is ubiquitous

Its the same price as Linux.1$ on a cd 2$ on a dvd.

Not so much Windows 7, as the activation is riskier, and, no Vista because even for 1$ nobody wants it.

Also Asian language support in xp is superb, while Linux is just OK.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: why xp is ubiquitous

Add to that the fact that MSFT closes its eyes and does nothing until it is 90%+. In fact it used to have hired hands handing it out like cocaine laced candy to schoolkids (at least used to - in Eastern Europe).

Once the penetration is @ 95%+ and the GDP is above a threshold where it becomes "interesting" the country president gets a visit from Balmer (used to be Billigatus himself). Pressure is excercised, money is exchanged, piracy is tackled and MSFT collects its "tax".

As Tom Lehrer used to sing:

"He gives the kids free samples,

Because he knows full well

That today's young innocent faces

Will be tomorrow's clientele."

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Re: Software piracy as a metric?

Gosh - who wouldn't want to go to a high-school that's an adjunct to a profitable sports business, and where meat-headed jocks in roaming rape-squads are above the law. Why wouldn't shy, brainy types flourish in such an environment?

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Re: why xp is ubiquitous

Have an up vote for a Tom Lehrer reference

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FAIL

Hot software in VietNam is pure guesswork.

Whomever BIS, or the outfit, is who proclaims so much 'hot' software is running in a country is out to lunch. They don't even know how many computers there are here in VietNam.

Sure the VN government had hot software a few years ago but the they went out and switched to Linux!

Most high school students have factory installed software on their numerous laptops, so where does it get it's numbers from? Guess work. Same goes for Laos and Cambodia, but even more so.

And all those 'call home features' in software are usually neutered by rewriting the HOST file. Cadence includes a call-home procedure but the installation .BAT file adds a line to the .BAT file that dad-ends the attempt to call home.

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FAIL

Asian language support in XP is superb?

That's got to be the most surreal thing I've heard today.

As someone who has had to switch between English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean on my PC for many years now, I can assure you that Asian language support in XP was only acceptable if you were using the version localised for the specific language you were using. God help you (because Microsoft wasn't going to) if you want to use Chinese on a Japanese version of XP -- or *any* Asian language on a US or EU version.

Windows 7's mostly-complete UNICODE integration is a big step up; but applications (even Office) are still terribly inconsistent, often insisting on using a different language for menus than the desktop for instance. Unsurprisingly, OSX has long been better at multilanguage support -- but so is any modern distribution of Linux (*how* old was the Linux you were referring to, anyway?).

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Re: Software piracy as a metric?

"who wouldn't want to go to a high-school that's an adjunct to a profitable sports business,"

I just upvoted this so hard.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Software piracy as a metric?

As for the boosters providing money; none. The school paid for it, not the boosters. Some of it was financed through bonds. Sooner or later the money needs to be paid back. The money that is earmarked for education should be spent on it and all of the other extracurricular activities should not be paid for from money taxed for education. The boosters can pay for the extracurricular activities. If they cannot, then that just proves a stadium that rivals that of the collegiate level is not required. How many high schools need a stadium that can seat 20,000 plus in attendance?

The fact is, there is too much waste at the schools and their priorities are screwed up. How about one school district that built a new school that cost over $100 million to build and when it was completed didn't have the money to actually open it. While they couldn't open it, it still cost $1 million a year on the district. Why did the school cost over $100 million to build?

"School will be a high-tech academic hub with wireless Internet, a robotics lab, digital smart boards in every classroom and a first-rate performance hall worthy of any "Glee" hopeful." They doesn't even touch all of the amenities of the athletic portion of the school.

That $100 million though is nothing. Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex in LA had a price tag of $578 million. "A flat screen TV embedded in a walkway, red velvet seats and a maple basketball floor are just some of the features" "The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of "Taj Mahal" schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities." "At RFK, the features include fine art murals and a marble memorial depicting the complex's namesake, a manicured public park, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and preservation of pieces of the original hotel." "The RFK complex follows on the heels of two other LA schools among the nation's costliest — the $377 million Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, which opened in 2008, and the $232 million Visual and Performing Arts High School that debuted in 2009." "The pricey schools have come during a sensitive period for the nation's second-largest school system: Nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed. The district also faces a $640 million shortfall and some schools persistently rank among the nation's lowest performing." That just proves that their priorities are messed up; get rid of teachers and put the money into buildings that don't influence the education that is provided.

How about another one:

"Newton North High School finally opened in the fall of 2010 on Walnut Street in Newtonville. With a price tag of $197.5 million, it is the most expensive public school ever built in Massachusetts."

Look at private schools; they are much more modest. Public schools are usually $10,500 or less per student. Without spending a dime on education, that $578 million would take 13 years to recover the cost. It will take well over 30 years before the school is paid for. Many private schools that provide a far better education charges around that $10,500. How come they can do what the public sector cannot? The answer is quite simple; a lot less waste. If we want education reform, get rid of the public system and make it private.

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WTF?

Re: Software piracy as a metric?

It will take well over 30 years before the school is paid for. Many private schools that provide a far better education charges around that $10,500. How come they can do what the public sector cannot? The answer is quite simple; a lot less waste. If we want education reform, get rid of the public system and make it private.

Oh fuck off you sad cunt.

How many public schools in the USA are bankrupt because the USA prefers to spend its money on bombs and guns?

The city of Chicago announced on Thursday that it will close 54 schools because they're $1bn in the red.

Education for those who can afford it, huh? The rest can fuck off and join the army I suppose...

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Re: Software piracy as a metric?

Oh **** *** *** *** ****

If you can't be intelligent, be polite.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Software piracy as a metric?

You fuck off you dopey cunt.

Ever think the public schools are bankrupt because of how THEY spend money? There is so much waste it is beyond belief. They build overpriced schools, have expensive multiple vehicles that runs over $50,000. Sometimes they are used so a group of administrators can go to a conference. I counted no less than 7 of them and they do seat 7. So did 49 people go to a conference? Sure sounds like taking a school bus would have been better rather than the need for all of those vehicles.

I never said education for those that can afford it. I said to end the public school system and make it private. That would stand to reason that the $10,500 that the public school system would be made available to the private school systems. If the private school systems can do it better and cheaper, then why keep throwing money and causing the problem we call a public school system? They have failed and continue to do so.

Using Chicago, really? Everything in Chicago is corrupt. They also have the highest paid teachers of ANY school system in the US. There are many other school systems that have better results at a far lower cost.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/09/14/us/how-the-chicago-public-school-district-compares.html?_r=0

If they teachers are making that much, imaging what the administrators make? Putting more money into the school systems that have just failed is not the answer. The people in charge need to go and the easiest way to do that, let the money (the $10,500) follow the kid to whatever school they want. Then and only then will the public school system actually compete to get kids.

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Re: why xp is ubiquitous

Tell me about it! Just trying to make Korean work and work CORRECTLY in PCLOS is a royal PITA. Just when I think it is about to work, something, some dep is missing, or it works - -a while, then the system bogs down. But, within W7 in VBox it it "just works". It works fine on an android tablet, which has years younger than Linux distros...

It sorta works, IIRC, in Abi Word. I cannot get the latest KDE-based office suites in unless I upgrade my entire base install, and past experience has told me to not do that unless I buy a new disk and do a fresh install (I don't do system clones; I preserve the last working disk, then start afresh with a new drive -- WHEN I have money...).

Linux, though, advertises that you an install now or later a number of other languages. I do understand that some distros work flawlessly. Unfortunately, I'm hung up on Mandrake/Mandriva's impression upon me, and PCLOS won me over in 2007. Just some nigglling litte text file complication I read about in 2011 being the culprit for PCLOS' Korean language hang-ups.

Anyway, maybe there should be H-1V (Vietnam-originating Developer Instructors) visas in the USA, with the instructors taking shcool.... Umm, school admin and teaching posts. hehehehe....

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Re: Asian language support in XP is superb?

I'm using:

Linux 3.2.18-pclos2.pae.bfs (i686)

#1 SMP PREEMPT Thur May 24 05:33:57 CES 2012

But, I've updated apps and libraries along the way, even as recently as a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, some apps, basic ones, don't recognize or play well with Korean. Libre Office and Calligra a so KDE-dependent they demand that I fully upgrade KDE to 2013. I'm not ready to do that, since occasionally, and invariably, I end up doing 2-3 reinstalls to restabilize things. I can only afford to do that in absoute emergencies and when I have time and money so I can do a new-disk install and have an emergency fall-back disk.

Even Libre Office won't correctly get started to download, and I have the repos updated. So, I've never seen what LO can do. Given all the spare hard drive space I have, I'm gettting pretty sick of "one-file-to-do-one-thing-well" when that mantra demans updating the entire systems for one frickin' app or suite. I want apps sequestered, sandbagged, isolated, even if I have to pay 1 GB in library files space. If I were better, I could probably link the libs, trick out my system, but that is too much for me to do and then remember months later what I did.

Asian fonts in OO.o work, but then when my systems goes wonky, I have to turn off Korean. Wonky how? Well, the space between English letters doubles in consoles. Some shortcuts I use in English go misbehaving, and rather than play detective for more than 10-20 minutes, I just uninstall or do some limited reversion.

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Pint

Nature/nurture: fight!

There are a number of issues in play here.

1. Humans are more intelligent than we need them do be. A moderately good education and diet is going to bring the average human up to a potential that is going to make him unhappy for the rest of his life as he knows his potential is far more than than his available work prospects. The world needs ditch-diggers too - far more than those constrained to the role by their intellectual ability.

2. The state of US education is deplorable. Any ordinary kid can read at above "college level" by the third grade with sufficient diet and education.

3. But if we maximize the potential of each young human into entry into adult life we pretty much guarantee they will be unhappy for the rest of their days. That's probably not a good thing as unhappy young people have a tendency to induce radical social change without regard to the consequences more mature folk are aware of.

4. Regardless of the above we also have far more useful people than we actually need to produce the necessary, so we need to find something useful and rewarding for the rest to do. The alternative is to demand they do nothing. To banish useful, creative and energetic people to the fringe of society and starve them for lack of work is to demand they cause trouble. Lots of trouble.

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Re: Nature/nurture: fight!

I agree with a lot of what you say regarding the quality of education in the states but as regarding overeducating, I'm not sure I agree entirely. I understand your point and it may be true for some people but not everyone. My degrees are in biology, chemistry and computing (but sure as hell wasn't any in English lol) but I ended up taking pictures of people for a living. I've used my degrees along the way and had a lot of fun but I have also had some very random jobs that didn't use them, a few of them would be considered 'menial'. I'm honestly just as happy landscaping or being a human forklift truck or taking pictures as I am working in a lab etc. Perhaps that is just a matter of different people judging themselves by different criteria? Theres nothing wrong with judging yourself by your achievements, I think perhaps we just pick different achievements to focus on.

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Coat

Re: Nature/nurture: fight!

@Mikel: A well-known author by the name of Aldous Huxley beat you to it by about 80 years.

What you're saying is we need more Deltas because not everyone can be Alphas. I agree with his (and your) point in principle, but I'm not entirely sure I'd want to live in the brave new world Huxley described in his eponymous book. I guess the feelies would be fun though.

The only thing remaining for this world is perfecting Bokanovsky's Process and with genetic technology the way it is, that's gotta be just around the corner by now - if we can overcome the anti-eugenicists...

Coat because I'm sure I left my soma in the pocket...

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Happy

Re: Nature/nurture: fight!

No I would disagree. An education isn't purely a utilitarian endeavour.

Ditch diggers with a Biology degree may be unhappy at having to take a menial job but they would still smile whenever they saw nature's code in the colourful bouqet of a meadow full of flowers.

I'd think an unhappiness with life is more of a reflection on how we are trapped in the inequities of modern society. And every time I confront another one, I take solace in the fact that at the very least I'm not a powerless beggar AND blind.

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Re: Nature/nurture: fight!

One could assume ditch diggers, or just more in the general population with a degree in biology (or even just a solid base in the sciences) would mean less quack medicine and crystal healing/cure autism/etc. peddlers

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Not to mention that just because your main job doesn't involve your degree that you wouldn't ever get to use it. Plenty of hobbies benefit from a degree, be it science or engineering (I did hear tell there are other types of degree, basket weaving etc).

If you value yourself based on your job title its an issue, if you value yourself based on how you act and how you are as a human being \ parent \ husband etc then it may be different.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nature/nurture: fight!

1. Humans are more intelligent than we need them do be.

No they aren't, but we do need better educated people; educated people fight less and cooperate more.

2. The state of US education is deplorable.

I blame the parents; but they were poorly educated too, soo its a vicious circle.

3. But if we maximize the potential of each young human into entry into adult life we pretty much guarantee they will be unhappy for the rest of their days. That's probably not a good thing as unhappy young people have a tendency to induce radical social change without regard to the consequences more mature folk are aware of.

WTF? Translation = Stupid old people should be able to tell clever young people what to do!

4. Regardless of the above we also have far more useful people than we actually need to produce the necessary, so we need to find something useful and rewarding for the rest to do.

Agreed, but given your statement 3. your solution is likely to be "Soylent Green"!

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DJO
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Re: Nature/nurture: fight!

The state of US education is deplorable.

I watched "The Challenger" on the Beeb this week and I was shocked at the opening scene: Richard Feynman giving a lecture to some Caltech students, Caltech is meant to be one of the foremost Universities in the US and what was he teaching? Newton’s laws! Material I was taught at 14 or 15 for O'Level physics, really basic stuff without which I wouldn't expect to even get into a university.

I don't know if this was an accurate representation or the producers having a laugh but anecdotal evidence suggests the former.

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Re: Nature/nurture: fight!

"The world needs ditch-diggers too - far more than those constrained to the role by their intellectual ability."

Google "conservation tourism" -- intellectual people often pay to go away and dig ditches for a couple of weeks.

One of the core ideas of early (ie. pre-Soviet) communism was that people would be happier with a bit of variety in their lives than becoming increasingly efficient at a single specific task.

So most of the time, the local doc's in his surgery, but come harvest time, he's out there bailing hay like the best of them. Just like in a traditional community. Hence "communism".

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Feynman lecturing on Newton's Laws

Regardless of whether I already knew about Newton's Laws before going into university, I would rather learn those laws from Feynman than anyone else. I'd love to hear his take on them, and how they connect to everything (physics, history, etc.). And you don't get Feynman at most high schools.

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DJO
Bronze badge

Re: Feynman lecturing on Newton's Laws

If you had a Richard Feynman available to present a lecture, don't you think he would be better employed expounding and hopefully clarifying some hard to understand aspect of quantum physics rather than repeating stuff everybody in the theatre should already know?

If I was to go to a Steven Hawkins or Martin Rees lecture, I would be disappointed if they never got beyond KE = ½mv²

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Pint

Re: Nature/nurture: fight!

Actually Feynman’s physics course for undergraduates was the complete opposite of dumbing down. Rather than starting with Newtonian Physics he would first teach freshmen Atomic theory along with statistical mechanics. This would be followed by Quantum theory (including QED). Electromagnetism and Maxwell’s field equations would follow, before (I think) Special / General Relativity were taught. Only then would Feynman cover classical mechanics. This proved too challenging for a large number of Caltech undergraduates - and this was the in 60s & 70s when Caltech was attracting the brightest Physics students in the US. The result was that many undergraduates stopped attending the course only to be replaced by graduate students. Lucky graduate students I say. I would have chopped off my right arm to be taught by the guy – an absolute genius and inspirational teacher. He was also a mean bongo player! The guy was one of the all-time science greats and a pioneer in nanotechnology and Quantum computing.

Beer as I would love to buy Feynman one if he were still around......

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Thumb Up

LOGO

LOGO got me hooked on programming early. There was nothing more enjoyable than refining a program at home, then making the turtle trace out profanities the next day at school.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LOGO

Aye, there's nothing more satisfying than spelling out the word "Fuck" with Iterated Function Systems. The best part is that you can show them the source code and they still have no idea what it will do without running it.

/IOCCC

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Devil

Re: LOGO

Logo was not the only language in those days. There were others - you could write a decent game in graphfort (in fact some of the commercial games for Apple ][ were written in it).

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Pint

Re: LOGO

As a parent, if my kid ever did that, I would immediately tell him that he did a great job and then ask him to show me how to get the computer to do it 20 times in a row.

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