[Edu-sig] Hello from a CS Teacher

Jeffrey Elkner jelkner@umd5.umd.edu
Sat, 12 Feb 2000 11:44:37 -0500

On Fri, 11 Feb 2000, Dustin James Mitchell wrote:
> So essentially you're using Python up to but notincluding the AP class?

Yes, most high schools do not offer AP as the first programming course.  There
is usually a prior course which is a prerequisit.  I think Python's first point
of entry into the curriculum will be as a first course language in both high
schools and middle schools.

> So in light of this and the AP problem, do we have any hope of introducing
> Python at the High School level, or would our interests (CP4E, not Py4E)
> be better served by developing a sensible, effective, well-supported
> environment in which to teach C++?  Is there anything else we can do to
> gain wider acceptance of our ideas?  Could we offer alternatives to the
> APs?  Is there any process by which we could appeal to the AP board to add
> Python as a possible language? 

C++ is a TERRIBLE language for CP4E!  And we should not let the collegeboard
dictate how we should teach (they have far too much power as it is ;-)  The APs
will be in C++ for the forseable future.  I personally do not see that as a
problem.  The AP course is aimed at future CS majors.  I want our first year
course to reach way beyond that limited population.  I have been arguing to
anyone who will listen that Python is the language of choice for someone who
wants to use programming as a tool but not necessarily as a career.  We now
have a second year course for students who want more programming but not on the
AP track.  Many of these students will be learning more Python in year 2.  For
those students who do want to major in computer science and who do plan on
taking the AP exam, the ought to learn more than one language anyway.  C++ will
be a good learning experience for them, made better by the fact that they will
already have a high level understanding of modern programming concepts through
their experience with Python ;-)

> Does anyone have a source for examples of developed curricula in any area?
> Something upon which we could model the structure of our curriculum?

Here is the collegeboard's apcsc site, for starters: