[Python-Dev] Informal educator feedback on PEP 572 (was Re: 2018 Python Language Summit coverage, last part)

Mark Dickinson dickinsm at gmail.com
Sun Jul 1 05:17:02 EDT 2018

On Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 7:28 PM, Chris Barker via Python-Dev <
python-dev at python.org> wrote:

> But once it becomes a more common idiom, students will see it in the wild
> pretty early in their path to learning python. So we'll need to start
> introducing it earlier than later.
> I think this reflects that the "smaller" a language is, the easier it is
> to learn.

For what it's worth, Chris's thoughts are close to my own here. I and
several of my colleagues teach week-long Python courses for Enthought. The
target audience is mostly scientists and data scientists (many of whom are
coming from MATLAB or R or IDL or Excel/VBA or some other development
environment, but some of whom are new to programming altogether), and our
curriculum is Python, NumPy, SciPy, Pandas, plus additional course-specific
bits and pieces (scikit-learn, NLTK, seaborn, statsmodels, GUI-building,
Cython, HPC, etc., etc.).

There's a constant struggle to keep the Python portion of the course large
enough to be coherent and useful, but small enough to allow time for the
other topics. To that end, we separate the Python piece of the course into
"core topics" that are essential for the later parts, and "advanced topics"
that can be covered if time allows, or if we get relevant questions. I
can't see a way that the assignment expression wouldn't have to be part of
the core topics. async stuff only appears in async code, and it's easy to
compartmentalize; in contrast, I'd expect that once the assignment
expression took hold we'd be seeing it in a lot of code, independent of the

And yes, I too see enough confusion with "is" vs == already, and don't
relish the prospect of teaching := in addition to those.

That's with my Python-teaching hat on. With my Python-developer hat on, my
thoughts are slightly different, but that's off-topic for this thread, and
I don't think I have anything to say that hasn't already been said many
times by others, so I'll keep quiet about that bit. :-)

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