[Edu-sig] Using objects early was Procedural front end for Zelle's graphics.py

David Reed dreed at capital.edu
Thu Feb 8 01:13:51 CET 2007

On Feb 7, 2007, at 6:10 PM, kirby urner wrote:

> I probably sound like a militant compared to most college professors,
> but I assure you many of my private sector collegues are far more
> polemical than I, when it comes to pointing out shortcomings in the
> current curriculum.

This is my personal comment and I don't claim to speak for others,  
but the only thing I find militant is that sometimes it appears to me  
you ignore what others are saying and talk about your stuff even when  
it's not particularly related. The question a few others and I were  
responding to was whether or not it's okay to just do procedural  
coding and not OO coding in a CS0 course and it felt like you just  
wanted to repeat the way you introduce your math concepts that we  
have seen so many times on this list.

You did address the issue here:

   In my idealized CS0, understanding this paradigm, of objects  
(things) as instances,
   of classes as encapsulating and structuring their "guts" (verbs,  
abilities, powers),
   is the important thing to get across.  Intro courses are  
characterized by their ability
   to rise above the petty day to day, to give overview, to survey.   
Lots of history, lots
   of (true) war stories.  Best if your teacher has plenty of real  
world experience.

I (and it appears a few others) respectfully disagree but I'm afraid  
these and other people's responses get lost when you focus on telling  
us how you teach math using Python when that was not the original  
topic/question. I do not think the goal of a CS0 course should be to  
make the students understand the guts of the OO paradigm. I want to  
develop problem solving skills - those skills should serve the  
student well no matter what their major is. If a student takes my CS1  
class and never takes another CS course, I at least hope I improved  
their problem solving skills. I don't expect them to remember the  
"guts" and details of OO. I do of course expect our majors to  
understand OO and we will continue to develop those skills in upper  
level courses. Who knows, 20 years from now there will be probably be  
some other paradigm than OO that is more commonly used, but I doubt  
problem solving will ever go out of style.

Don't get me wrong - I applaud you for what you do to try to make  
math more interesting to young kids. I admire your passion and think  
it's a great use of Python. I just don't think your way is the only  
way to use Python to teach (and would love to see more discussion of  
other uses), especially when the course doesn't need to have a math  
slant. Python's string methods provide lots of possibilities for  
developing problem solving skills w/o focusing on math concepts. I  
think you could do a lot in a CS0 course w/o do much math beyond  
basic mathematics (you at least need to know how to count to  
understand loops). :-) That might be very appropriate for a CS0  
course containing people who are "math phobic".

Kirby, you or anyone else are of course free to respond, but this is  
most likely my last post on the subject as I think we're mainly  
rehashing things that have already been said on this list.


More information about the Edu-sig mailing list