[Edu-sig] The fate of raw_input() in Python 3000

John Zelle john.zelle at wartburg.edu
Wed Sep 6 23:51:40 CEST 2006

On Wednesday 06 September 2006 1:24 pm, Arthur wrote:
> John Zelle wrote:

> >I have no idea what you mean here. Speaking only for myself, I am simply
> >stating that a language that requires me to use an extended library to do
> >simple input is less useful as a teaching tool than one that does not. I
> > also gave arguments for why, as a programmer, I find it less useful.  You
> > have not addressed those arguments.
> /I think I have.
> In the decorator discussion on python-list I became the self-appointed
> founder and chairman of the CLA - Chicken Little Anonymous.  Which was
> some self-deprecation in connection with my role in the int/int and
> case-sensitivity ddiscussions.  And allowing me some freedom to
> adamantly voice my opinions on the introduction of decorators - I was
> adamantly against - while letting it be known that I thought Python
> would well survive the outcome, whatever it ended up being.
> My opinion here is that you are probably right in some senses, probably
> wrong in others - and that Python will be not be *significantly* less
> useful for pedagogical purposes, whatever the outcome of the issue.
> So I choose to speak to the tone of the discussions as more to the
> substance of the issue, than is the substance of the tissue itself.  And
> as the more important issue.

Fair enough. But I still think you are having a hasty reaction here. This 
discussion (as I have read it) has not been about making Python or 
programming easy. It's been about what makes Python useful both for 
programmers and for the education of new programmers. Please see the actual 
arguments made in this thread. Sometimes I think you 
dismiss opinions based on pedagogical foundations a bit too quickly and 
off-handedly. In my experience, a good language for teaching is a good 
language, period. A barrier for pedagogy is very often a barrier to 
natural/useful conceptualizations, and that speaks to language design for all 

People often say that Pascal was designed as a "teaching language." I remember 
a written interview with Nicklaus Wirth where he was asked what makes Pascal 
a good teaching language, and his reponse, as I remember it, was something 
like: Pascal is not a teaching language and was never intended to be; it was 
designed to be a good programming language. The features of its design that 
make it a good programming language are what make it a good teaching languge. 

I believe that a good language is one that provides a natural way to express 
algorithms as we think about them. Python is one of the very best I have 
found for that. I believe (for reasons already stated) it is less good 
without raw_input and input.  That is and was the "tone" of the discussion, 
so I'm finding it hard to figure out what you take exception to.


John M. Zelle, Ph.D.             Wartburg College
Professor of Computer Science    Waverly, IA     
john.zelle at wartburg.edu          (319) 352-8360  

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