It’s a cool post and touches on important skills that come from knowing how to code. But I think the author implicitly assumes that building such tools is possible. They sound like a silver bullet to me. I’m skeptical. I’d still bet that fundamental programming skills are the new literacy.
As a Head Start Technology person I would actually say that what he says is VERY practical educationally speaking. This push for STEM has had been a challenge to make things developmentally appropriate while also providing more science engineering and math. We have been modeling for year.
Example: Classroom shows intrest in helicopters (Normally it is always a castle at first) we than study helicopters and talk about it. Than we talk about their use and what problems they solve. When the students are ready and are excited we will build a helicopter BUT first we blue print and break down the plans for making it. We go with the child’s suggestions especially when we know it will fail. Then the child needs to de-bug and come up with a new plan (Teachers guide this part more so the child isn’t frustrated and gives up) and the solution is in place we complete the project. It normally takes around 2 weeks for this process BUT I would say that we model more than anything with 3-5 year old children and it works. To bad that most kindergarten’s are glorified 1st or 2nd grade and don’t cover these things anymore.
Imagine what we could learn if we had the ability to break anything down, to reach inside it, and see what that little bit there does. The more ways we find to represent systems such that we retain that ability, the more power we will have to understand complex things.
This also describes why writing clojure with LightTable (or similar) rocks so much.