[Edu-sig] Python First: Free access for educators

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Wed Mar 8 20:10:55 CET 2006

> I know this list is a most sophisticated Python audience. Any feedback
> is appreciated. I can also explain my chosen pedagogy, should that need
> arise.
> Cheers,
> Atanas

Hi Atanas --

My broad brush stroke philosophy in this context is we're in the early
stages of pioneering effective ways of teaching programming, in Python
or any other language.  How a language gets taught is not an easy
business to describe and involves much trial and error.

As a consequence, I am not eager to lay down any strict rules about
how it should or must be done.  Too early to get strident.  Like, I'll
be trying underunder-style operator overriding (overloading) as early
as the 4th week, because I'm just using Python as a means to an end: 
what this is *really* about is the Vector type in math.  Python is
just a notation.

But that's not necessarily the standard CS approach.  The CS idea of
heaven (as in "stairway to") seems to be:  put Python students on an
escalator to the even greater delights of Java (angel music, shaft of
light).  I mutter something about Bruce Eckel liking Python better,
but usually under my breath, as I sense a fanatical gleam in their CS
faculty eyes.[1]

Anyway, my bottom line is:  teach Python in any way you feel you're
effective at.  Teachers *cannot* simply pick up other teachers' skills
and techniques at the drop of a hat.  We're reprogrammable, but not
*that* reprogrammable.  I can't be you and you can't be me.  So we
shouldn't worry if our own style and effectiveness is not a carbon
copy of someone else's.

My Python moodles are very much geared to Algebra students.  I'm
looking at Polynomials, Polyhedra, Vectors and Rationals as "types in
an extensible type system" with Python's OO illustrating what I mean
by that (but it even kinda meant that pre-Python and pre formalized

So is this what I think everyone should be doing in their own
respective moodles?  Absolutely not.  Then I'd feel a lot more
redundant, and maybe have to find a new gig.  But for now, my gig is
pretty unique, and that suits me just fine (which doesn't mean I don't
welcome competitors).


[1] http://pythonjournal.cognizor.com/pyj2/Eckel.html

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