[Inpycon] Python at Schools

Abhishek Mishra ideamonk at gmail.com
Sun Sep 27 04:29:13 CEST 2009

At Pycon India Day 1, "National Mission on Education through ICT &
Python" was a great talk, and mission is seriously something which is
the need of the hour. What I like best about the mission is,
engineering students would actually be _utilizing_ computers to do a
whole variety of tasks which Python makes as easy as pie, by attaching
wings to our imaginations rather than restricting it by [ language
specific rules, conventions, the need to understand things at core
level ]
The impact, sooner or later is going to be huge. As one of the people
already questioned about schools, and it was announced that this
initiative aims just colleges - engineering and sciences. I would like
to ask, are there any parallel initiatives which aim at schools?
I wish there are some... one aspect of Python which I appreciate most
is - There is very less time between imagination and implementation
for short programs. Secondly, being an interpreter, you can always
execute on the fly and you can always make live mistakes and know what
went wrong. There is inbuilt help as we saw it. What could be more
perfect to begin programming.
I've heard about how kids in European countries begin with Python.
Let's compare that to India, I started with GW-BASIC, which is a very
good language to begin with. But don't you think it has become pretty
old, and is hardly readily available. People start with LOGO at some
places, but that limits them to drawing, though it does introduce one
to joy of programming. I don't think teaching C++ actually gets a
normal kid excited about programming, rather than that, just like some
of us developed maths phobia back then, some kids end up hating the
word 'programming'. I've heard that many times from my peers at
Python is something that can convince them more about the power of
programming than C/C++ for sure. And instead of people developing a
sort of resistance to programming, can actually appreciate how it
actually gives them freedom over huge software suits and tools and
instead get their work done the way they want, with outputs in format
they want, without having to pay a penny as in case of Python.
It happens that at ICSE schools java/c++ is offered for almost last 4
years of schooling, while my CBSE experience was horrible, with no
programming in syllabus till class 11th. While way back in an ICSE
school, programming started at class 6 with GW-BASIC and that language
was fun.
My whole point is, wherever programming is taught at school levels, I
think Python must replace old almost dying pieces of
GWBASIC/QuickBASIC or TurboC++.
People usually tend to leave both BASIC, and TurboC++ when they don't
realize, the ones who don't end up as teachers at colleges like mine.
But had we a generation that knew basics of Python, things would've
been different. For whome a TurboC++ IDE became something they depend
on, like chain smokers depend on cigarettes, Python would've been a
Jetpack they would've never forgotten. What I mean is that learning
Python at school won't make Python vanish from your life after you
leave school since you can possibly do anything with it.

Anyways, So is MHRD/(Whoever cares) doing something at School Level?

Wouldn't that solve the demand of Python teachers as needed by
"National Mission on Education through ICT & Python" and actually
reduce the friction to its adoptibility which I can obviously see at
engineering level, I'm sure not many of the profs/teachers at my
college would put efforts to try out Python.

Abhishek Mishra

out for Day 2 :)

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