[Edu-sig] should we have learning languages?

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Mon Feb 13 08:42:57 CET 2012

One still hear's tones of regret that the good old
days are over, when one's choice of a first year
computer language was obvious:  Algol or Pascal.

Today there's no such consensus (if there ever
was), but another question is "should we have
learning languages?"

There was a time when it was considered
intuitive that languages not used in the "real
world" could be all that much more powerful
as educational tools because weighted to
"learner" needs.

BASIC was one of those languages, and we
may argue that it gave birth to the PC era, which
is what gave rise to the *nix explosion (aka the
"dot com bomb") as a follow-on event.**

But is the Darwinian process that winnows
the field to but a few languages also giving us
more learnable ones?

Consider Grace, a new language in development
for the express purpose of teaching object
oriented programming to students.  Why not
use Python?  Python lacks compile time type

Is that bad?

It's a subject of religious wars.  Note how the
voices beneath the main question worry about
it's "subjective" nature:  code for it's potential
to inspire "flame wars":


The answer that's eventually accepted takes
the approach of reserving scorn for extremists
in both camps.


** of course "dot com bomb" sounds bad
for business whereas the *Nix revolution paved
the way for the Free Web and free just about
everything.  New businesses depend on "going
viral" i.e. the infinite replicability of binary
objects is the key to their success, versus
failure (a big turnaround in some industries)

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