[Edu-sig] Maybe 'learn python with your kids' is an idea whose time has come?

Laura Creighton lac at strakt.com
Wed Mar 29 15:02:10 CEST 2006

We could do this for Europython.  Do we want to?  What would we
teach, and what would we need?


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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2006 21:16:01 -0600
From: "Michael Tobis" <mtobis at gmail.com>
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In response to a query from a father wanting joint programming
tutorials with his son that appeared on the Chicago Python User Group
(ChiPy; pronounced "chippie") mailing list, I volunteered to teach an
introductory class in Python to all comers.

I announced this on the ChiPy list and on the Linux Users of Northern
Illinois (LUNI) list, and made no other effort to promote it.

My colleague Andy Harrington, a professor at Loyola University of
Chicago was able to arrange for a classroom for a Staurday afternoon.

We met last weekend, and it went pretty well. In
addition to another ChiPy volunteer, Robert Ramsdell, and Andy, over a
dozen people showed up, three women, two fathers with young sons in
tow, and about ten guys, all seriously motivated.

After talking for too long, I walked them through some very simple
exercises with the interactive prompt. We got as far as writing loops
to draw a diamond figure in ASCII graphics. A few people managed to
draw the whole kite figure which was my objective.

You can see the slides I showed up with at

If I had it to do over, I'd just "dive in" (to coin a phrase) and skip
the preamble, which I think was mostly a mistake.

This was my first experience teaching complete beginners, and it will
be helpful to me in preparation for my formally teaching an
introductory CS course at Loyola this summer. I think most of the
participants found it worthwhile as well.

Probably the most interesting thing is we did almost zero promotion to
fill the room. Just an announcement on the ChiPy list and an
announcement on the Linux Users of Northern Illinois list. This leads
me to suspect that you could pull this together in a smaller city, if
you promoted it harder.

There are people out there who want to learn Python. We should reach
out to them.

Michael Tobis
marketing-python mailing list
marketing-python at wingware.com

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