[Edu-sig] teaching Python

Arthur ajsiegel at optonline.net
Wed Nov 24 03:41:11 CET 2004

John writes -

> Some on this list have suggested that Python is "too rich" to be good
> language for young or first-time programmers. 

That some, as far as I can tell, might only be me. 

But if it is, if can't be.

I have given witness to having been a first-time programmer who learned
enough from my experience working with Python to now get paid for doing
development work.

And then there is the question of defining young.  If we leave the term
vague enough, we can allow ourselves to both be right. But you teach college
and target your text to high schoolers (and up).  Darren was targeting 7th
to 10th,  Unless you know something I don't about the Australian school
system, those seem to me to be very different matters. You would be carving
out a very exceptional niche for programming curriculum by claiming that the
same text appropriate to 11th and 12th graders is also appropriate for 7th
and 8th.  I would insist that I am being more careful in my remarks than you
might want to believe.

>I cannot agree with this.
> Yes, Python is a real-world language, but what makes it so useful in the
> real-world is its simplicity and clean design. All general purpose
> languages are powerful. Python is one of the easiest to learn. That
> said, programming _is_ hard. Not everyone can do it well, but my
> experience has been that anyone who really tries can learn to do useful
> things with Python.

I happen to be someone who really tried. And I am all for allowing us to
assume we are talking about folks motivated to learn, in all cases of our

It is more when we - I am not sure what we I am referring to here -  get off
on how to hocus-pocus folks into learning, and what language design issues
prevent folks who don't care to learn, from learning - that I tend to mouth
off a bit.


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