[Edu-sig] Re: Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer

Toby Donaldson tjd at sfu.ca
Sun Dec 14 04:19:48 EST 2003


> I wasn't doing that though.  I realize there are lots of worthwhile
> languages out there and it pays to move on from Python.  But it also
pays
> to come back to it later, and if all the Python you ever get is in
CS1, 
> then you might not realize some of its power.
> 
> This is equally true for some other languages.

Which begs the question: why Python instead of these other languages?
Given the choice between teaching CS students more Python or teaching a
new language (such as Prolog, Scheme, ML, or Haskell), I would decide to
teach a new language. 

Anyways, I think that many students who continue to program will simply
continue to use Python when it makes sense. That's been my experience so
far.

> How is this different from discussing "neat features"?  That you can
use
> such simple syntax to do file I/O, or don't need a lot of type
> declarations,
> are *features* which lead to higher productivity.

I guess that's true. When I think about it, for me the question is "How
do I convince my department to change CS1 from Java to Python?", and
listing language features isn't the answer. Neat language features are a
dime a dozen in CS.

By the way, I am in "Zelle's camp":
http://tonka.iat.sfu.ca/toby/pythoned/pp4e. I don't think Perl, Ruby, or
Scheme (or VB, PHP, JavaScript, Tcl/Tk, ActionScript, etc.) have any
hope of becoming popular CS1 languages the way Python does.

Toby
--
Dr. Toby Donaldson
Assistant Professor
School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Simon Fraser University







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