[Edu-sig] Re: How do we tell truths that might hurt (reply to all)
jimleisy at fbeedle.com
Mon May 3 12:08:48 EDT 2004
Hello All--Scott David Daniels has made some great observations. I have
been a computer science textbook editor for the past 26 years. My career
straddles two major programming paradigm shifts and several big language
trends. Below the ==== is an email I have been sending to college CS
department heads to inspire a revolutionary change in CS0 and CS1. In it I
reference the historic shift from FORTRAN to Pascal. Pascal did a great job
of introducing neophytes to structured programming and computer science
concepts. The sun set on Pascal, principally, because it was not an
industry standard production language. Python has many of the same
attributes and none of the perceived drawbacks. Computer science education
is contending with circumstances very similar to those of the era that gave
rise to Pascal.
The motivation for my campaign is a strong belief in the benefits Python
can bring to computer science education, and to encourage the use of John
Zelle's textbook Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science
(published by my company).
Professor ( ___________),
I think we are experiencing deja vú in computer science.
FORTRAN once was the gateway to the discipline. It was a quagmire for
students. Wirth created Pascal to
address this and to support a paradigm shiftstructured programming
methodology. Pascal took. Over 80% of
the colleges in the US taught CS1 using it well into the 90s.
Remember the flood of students intent on majoring in CS? Retention is a
serious issue everywhere. C++ and Java are
now the gateway. Are they assets in the effort to attract majors? Frequent
compiler syntax errors create mounting frustration
in students. Few programs are written and computer science fundamentals are
A growing number of colleges have switched to Python in CS1 (they
transition into C++ or Java in CS2). It works. Students
write more programs and learn computer science fundamentals. It is an OO
language and open sourcethe language and tools are all free. It's used by
Google, Industrial Light & Magic, John Deere, and NASA. Like Pascal it
makes things simple, not simplistic.
We've got a great book to support the switch: John Zelle's Python
Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science. Would you like to review
it? Is there anyone in the department who should see it?
Franklin, Beedle & Associates Incorporated
8536 SW St Helens Drive, Suite D Wilsonville, Oregon 97070 USA
free (USA) call 1-800-322-2665 otherwise call
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