[Edu-sig] Computer Hatred

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Wed Sep 24 12:10:24 EDT 2003

> In a message of Wed, 24 Sep 2003 15:03:53 BST, Shelley Walsh writes:
> >I'm not looking for a statistical package. I am trying to discover such
> >basic things as why it is so much easier to press 2+4= on a calculator than
> >=2+4 in a spreadsheet. Or for that matter why typing 2+4 at a >>> prompt is
> >so much harder than pressing 2+4= on a calculator. My experience was that
> >students were even more violently against Python than they were against
> >Excel. The ** drives for powers scares them even more than the ^ does.

> I think the question you need to ask is 'what makes a calculator easy
> to use'.  It may simply be that people are trained to use a calculator,
> long before you meet them.  [...]

Probably, but even if you've never used a calculator, *learning* to
use a calculator is a lot easier than learning to use a computer.  The
reason is simple: affordabilities.  A basic calculator (I'm not
talking about those TI models) has a small number of buttons, each
with a single function clearly labeled.  "+" means plus, and so on.
Compare that to a computer: the keyboard has over 100 keys, there's a
mouse, there are buttons on the screen, etc., etc.  Between all that,
** for power seems a minor issue (and easily solved, as Laura showed).

--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)

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