Something occurred to me today when I was going over Python programming lessons with my son. We are making a horrible mistake with our children and computers. In the last 20 years computers have went from being a device to unleash our creativity to a device to indulge our consumption of media. Now I know you are probably saying "well duh Ken where have you been" but it is something I really had not thought about until now.
About a week ago I heard about a project called Levinux a tiny Linux virtual machine that can run inside Dropbox. http://mikelev.in/ux/. It is a very simple education tool consisting of a short stack of vim , git and python. I had tried a few IDEs but it was always simpler for me and my kids just to pop open a text editor and start coding. Now one week later I see something happening with my oldest son that was not happening before. He is spending his free time sitting in front of the computer with his Levinux terminal open feverishly typing away on simple little scripts and creating ASCII art while games and movies are just a click away.
Something has changed in the way he sees a computer that I was not expecting. He is no longer consuming media he is creating. The family computer has changed from a flashy pass time to a tool for creativity. It reminds me of the when I got my Tandy Color Computer back in the early 80's and how In spent endless hours of my childhood writing simple BASIC scripts.
Have we made computers so much of a distraction for our kids that we are failing at making them an effective education tool. As any experienced parent will tell you if you want your children to make good choices limit their options. My son has went from "can I play a game?" To when are you going to show me how to write a game? For the last week I have stuck him on my old laptop that can't run any games and had him coding and now he is sitting behind the desktop coding instead of playing games. Wow what an amazing change in such a short time. It has me thinking instead of something like a tablet he might be better off with something like my old t22 Think pad or maybe a Raspberry Pi. I guess the old saying is true "sometimes less is more".+Mike Levin 
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