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Learn to Knit to Better Teach Computer Programming

Beads Land-Trujillo

Jacquard looms are cited as precursors to computers, given the use of punched cards to represent heddle positions. Ironically, the Jacquard design actually obviates the binary arithmetic skills needed to understand drafts in hand weaving.

Yet knitting provides a better analog for computer languages. Sequence, iteration, conditionals, syntactic sugar are all present in written knitting patterns. Knitting thus offers instructors a hands-on approach to teaching computer programming concepts.

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    • Alessandra Rizzotti

      I'll add that in Beads! Great way of thinking about programming. Really creative.

      • Beads Land-Trujillo

        The very important point made early on in this particular blog post is that knitting to a pattern is not programming. Rather, knitting to a pattern is emulating what a computer does when it executes a program.

        A specific goal of the Noclisi project is for students to do just this sort of emulation, learning to count and play games and do other activities that prepare them to think about what it is a computer is actually doing when it "executes" instructions.

        Knitting becomes programming (as the blog post explains quite eloquently) when the student actually writes new knitting patterns -- a process that can't help but be informed by their experiences following patterns written by others.

        Now, imagine trying to write knitting patterns for other people to follow without ever having picked up a pair of needles and seen what it was like to knit yourself. This is how we currently teach computer programming.

      • Beads Land-Trujillo

        It seems the server is caching pages for a fixed period (good design), without purging the cache after edits (not so good design), so although I had changed the URL to reflect the infotrope discussion, it was still showing the mistakenly entered link when I reloaded the page.