[Edu-sig] Python for CS101

Lloyd Hugh Allen chandrakirti at gmail.com
Sat Apr 30 18:31:36 CEST 2005

The faq says:
8. What impact will this have on the following courses?

In upper-level courses, we wouldn't be able to assume that the
students know Java, C++, or C. We are planning on teaching memory
management and compiling issues in our Programming Paradigms course.

9. What about the AP exams?

If students have experience in Java, having Python in the introductory
course is a reason that they may still want to take it, rather than
testing out of it.
I think it's worthwhile to say that Python has much less overhead than
Java. It's a useful instructional language because you need only the
structure that you are trying to teach at that particular moment; in
Java, it's necessary to wrap ANY useful code in a class in order to
compile. This wastes time on the first day of CS 101, and is viewed by
new programmers as confusing magic.

If students learn Python first, classes can be introduced after basic
concepts (functions, variable assignment) have been developed. Then
when students transition to java et al., classes will be old friends,
and instantiating them will be old hat.

I am not saying that students will not continue to use Python, but I
am saying that Python-proficient students will pick up advanced
features of other languages more quickly. Programmers should use
whatever language is most appropriate for the current task, and
http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html#skills1 . (My
intentention with my own course this fall is to start with Python,
then repeat the problem sets with C (as the students already have
Java), perhaps intermingled with
http://www.eblong.com/zarf/zplet/lists.html )

On 30/04/05, Douglas S. Blank <dblank at brynmawr.edu> wrote:
> Edu-sig members,
> I am proposing that we move our intro courses at Bryn Mawr College to
> Python. Although I have been using Python for a few years, and have
> used it in the upper-level courses for teaching robotics, I haven't
> taught an intro course with it.
> I am now responding to my colleagues' questions. If you have useful
> comments, or if you have questions too, please feel free to add them here:
> http://emergent.brynmawr.edu/emergent/PythonForCS
> or send them to me (or post them here). I hope when this process is
> complete, this data will be useful for others ready to make the plunge.
> Thanks for any feedback,
> -Doug
> PS - you'll have to make an account on the wiki; sorry but that cuts
> down on the kiddie hackers, and only makes it slightly less wiki (wiki
> wiki is "quick" in Hawaiian).
> --
> Douglas S. Blank,         Assistant Professor
> dblank at brynmawr.edu,            (610)526-6501
> Bryn Mawr College,   Computer Science Program
> 101 North Merion Ave,       Park Science Bld.
> Bryn Mawr, PA 19010  dangermouse.brynmawr.edu
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