[Edu-sig] education as Python killer app

Michael Tobis mtobis at gmail.com
Tue May 29 17:05:36 CEST 2007

Jeff: sorry for the double mailing; I erroneously replied to you and not all.


On 5/26/07, Jeff Rush <jeff at taupro.com> wrote:
> Michael Tobis wrote:
> > Is education Python's killer app? I think it could be.
> >
> > I used the occasion of the Python Papers to motivate my efforts to
> > explain this idea, and you can see what I came up with on pages
> > 8-15.
> Michael, thanks for writing for the Python Papers.  I found your article quite
> interesting.

Thanks. I hope it helps bring some new energy to CP4E.

>  I would ask though, of what education are you thinking?  I mean,
> there is the use of Python to teach programming, and there is the teaching of
> other topics but using Python to do it.

Absolutely. I want there to be a well-designed computer language in
common use so that I can write simple pieces of code to convey the
fundamentals of climate and earth science that are policy relevant and
have substantive discussions with people, instead of having to go over
the fundamentals over and over again. That was my motivation for
getting interested in CP4E in the first place.

I expect you may hear from others on this list ( :-) ) who are using
Python to teach math.

> And there is the teaching of children
> versus adults, although a case can be made for some degree of overlap there.

Yes. Check my taxonomy of five classes of beginner. I think that may
be the most substantively original part of my modest contribution.

> Much of the effort I've seen is to teach programming, but the OLPC project has
> intrigued me more to consider non-programming topics.  Since I hang out mostly
> with other programmers, this is challenging.
> > I suggest a concerted effort by the community toward leveraging the
> > OLPC/Sugar momentum to revive the idea of Python as tool for teaching
> > some programming as a useful part of universal education.
> While there are those who enjoy solving abstract problems, programming or
> otherwise, if seems to me that if we're going to tackle CP4E (computer
> programming for everyone, for those not aware of the history), we have to make
> programming not the end-goal but the tool for doing the things in which those
> people are interested.  CP4E will never make the vast majority of people
> programming geeks.

I absolutely agree. The purpose of literacy is not to create
novelists, either. Findamental programming competence is not
vocational training. It ought to be and (if we survive the next coming
crunch intact) probably someday will be a prerequisite for effective
participation in the democratic process.

> So it seems to me that it would advance the cause, of programming in general
> and Python specifically, if a repository of resources were assembled.  I'm
> sure some of these exist scattered across the net but some I've never been
> able to find.  And non-programmers can be so impatient in rummaging through
> sites, understandably wanting to get on with solving their problem.
> I tossed together a very rough wiki page of some ideas I've been kicking
> around.  These resources attempt to answer a response I get frequently when I
> push the learning of Python, that of "but what would I -do- with Python once I
> learned it?".
>   http://wiki.python.org/moin/Advocacy/ProgrammingForNewprogrammers

Wiki is good. Yes wiki please.

I think we should also update the edu-sig page on python.org . One of
the purposes of the article was to nucleate a maintained directory
relevant resources of all types.


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