[Edu-sig] Hello from a CS Teacher

Matthias Felleisen matthias@rice.edu
Sat, 12 Feb 2000 11:27:09 -0600 (CST)

As some of you know, the TeachScheme! project has been following exactly
the path suggested by Jeffrey Elkner: 

 - develop pre-AP material
 - train teachers to deploy it at that level
 - work with them to convince principals and admins that teaching
   language A before B is okay (most believe you must teach C++
   in pre-AP courses). 

We have trained many teachers, we have tested the material as low as
5th grade (it works), we have great comments from all kinds of teachers
(comp sci, math, bio, physics). 

Some teachers have provided their students with material on maintaining Web
trees, CGI scripts, email, etc. So students have even gone on from here
doing more than plain school stuff. 

Questions, comments, proposals: 

1. If you are a teacher, come visit our workshop:

   See for yourself.  No, I won't mind if you take the best of our ideas
   and use them for Python later (with acknowledgement). But if that's your
   primary goal, contact us as you sign up. 

2. If you believe in C4PE, why not Scheme4PE? Is there an advantage of
   Python over DrScheme? What can we learn from you? I do like the world
   idea, and it was a part of our first proposal BUT it was shot down big
   time by some educrats. Perhaps they couldn't imagine it in the
   classroom. Anything else? 

-- Matthias

  From: Jeffrey Elkner <jelkner@umd5.umd.edu>
  To: "PythonEDU" <edu-sig@python.org>
  Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] Hello from a CS Teacher
  Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000 11:44:37 -0500
  Cc: Dustin James Mitchell <djmitche@cs.uchicago.edu>

  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: