To people who use ‘em, a wheelchair is a chariot of independence. Like a bicycle. Or a skateboard. No one is trapped, tied down, or imprisoned. Quite the opposite. They are the way some folks go to school, work & hang out with friends.

I’d never thought to call programming a “chariot of independence”, but that’s what it is. Being able to build simple things for yourself means you aren’t limited by someone else’s decisions about how possible something should be or what insights you’re allowed to find in data.

This is a big part of why I’m so interested in free-range education initiatives like Software Carpentry, Bridge, the Cube School, and Lighthouse Labs, whose agendas are set more by “how can I do something useful?” than by “what do Computer Science departments teach?” This is also why I want to help people working in those initiatives to learn more about evidence-based pedagogy in general, and computing education research in particular: all too often, I think people working in free-range initiatives throw a lot of very useful babies out with the bathwater they view as “just theory”.

I’m going to have to learn a lot of things I don’t know in order to help build bridges between these two groups. This workshop is a start, and I’ll continue recording what I discover here. Pointers, suggestions, experience reports, and introductions are always welcome.