[Edu-sig] pedagogy, programming environments, and readings

Matthias Felleisen matthias@rice.edu
Sun, 6 Feb 2000 11:35:37 -0600 (CST)

Dear Python CP4E-ers: 

I follow your discussions with great interest as an outsider
and would like to comment/suggest a few things. 

It surprises (and saddens) me that so much enthusiasm is spent on
discussions with so little background information. Our discipline 
is a science with a large body of research (not educational) 
literature. Other communities have gone through the discussions on 
how implementations of IDEs relate to pedagogy and vice versa. For 

 1. Your community is not the first one to discuss case-sensitivity 
    and case-insensitivity. Why not check how they dealt with the issue? 

 2. You're not the first to discuss the merits of tail-call optimizations
    in a pedagogic context. Study some of the recent pattern literature 
    on OO design and then consider why tail-call optimizations are
    essential. Don't shoot from the hip with lots of <winks> and <grins>
    and <G:->. Unless, of course, you have too much time at your hands. 

 3. The same applies to GC. 

 4. The connection between IDE design and beginners, at all levels, is
    important and has been recognized as such. We have published a paper on
    this, among others.

 5. Nobody (as far as I can tell) has raised the question how you want to
    differ from the rest of the world. What value do you add? Playing with
    worlds? Yes, Pappert has suggested it. Has anyone checked whether he and
    his team have done anything about it? (They did.) What is new about
    Pythin's pedagogy vs the prevailing, argh, C++ pedagogy? Etcetc. 

My goal is not to be negative. I am only suggesting that you study what
exists, clarify where you want to go, and advertise why your ideas and
(future) curriculum is better than what's out there. While we, the
outsiders, discuss, the rest of the world gets entrenched into the next
fashion wave and we will have to battle it. 

-- Matthias

Matthias Felleisen
Professor of Computer Science
Rice University

 For a new way to look at the world of high school computing, 
       see http://www.cs.rice.edu/CS/PLT/Teaching/Workshops/

"Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is 
 about telescopes."	
                                             -- E. W. Dijsktra