[Tugindia] LaTeX in schools

David Kastrup dak at gnu.org
Mon Apr 7 13:17:20 CEST 2003

Kapil Hari Paranjape <kapil at imsc.res.in> writes:

> Here is my 2 paise worth on this discussion.
> 1. What is deemed "user-friendly" or "easy-to-learn" in today's
>    computer world is more determined by the phobias of adults than
>    by what children are capable of learning.

Of course.  Children are quite capable of consuming and mastering
vast amounts of disparate information.  That's what makes it possible
for them to acquire language skills in the first place.

> 2. Nothing can be taught by teachers who are themselves unable to
>    approach the material with enthusiasm.

Not entirely true, but it certainly makes a vast difference.  One mark
of a good teacher is that he can deal with and aid a pupil that
surpasses his own capabilities.  Of course, we can hardly expect that
in primary school.

> 4. In this respect, the "graphical" mode of "Emacs21+auctex+preview"
>    or "LyX" may satisfy the legendary impatience of
>    children. However, it is important to emphasise the challenge and
>    satisfaction of being able to "state" precisely what one wants to
>    limit the "preview" crutch as one gains in TeXpertise.

Uh, do you have any actual experience with Emacs/AUCTeX/preview-latex?
I doubt it when reading statements like the above.  preview-latex does
not save your pupil from typing even a single character (though
AUCTeX's menus can save you some actual typing): the TeX code has to
be entered completely, as readable source code, before you can let
preview-latex loose.  It is just that you _then_ get a more convenient
form of visual feedback than typical previewers provide.  In contrast,
LyX shields the writer from actually accessing LaTeX.  Please read up
on <URL:http://preview-latex.sourceforge.net/wysiwyg-draft.pdf> for a
good summary of the difference and approaches of those two and other
systems trying to give a higher level of visual feedback in connection
with LaTeX authoring.

Or even actually try them yourself.

> A. Give courses on such things in local schools and colleges whenever
>    you can.
> B. Generate notes which can be easily accessed for self-study *and* used
>    by enthusiastic teachers.
> Needless to say such activity can only be pursued with energy by those
> who never step off the learning curve themselves.

Nope.  By those that still have contact with the learning curve, which
can also be by teaching or helping.  The kind of things I may still be
able to learn about Emacs or TeX are utterly irrelevant to teaching
basic skills.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum
UKTUG FAQ: <URL:http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html>

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