Beginning programming with Python

Thomas A. Bryan tbryan at
Fri Nov 12 03:35:33 CET 1999

Aaron Ginn wrote:
> Hello all,
> I'm starting a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting computer
> literacy in low-income youth (ages 12-18).  The curriculum will
> include an introduction to programming using either Python or Perl.

I'd definitely vote for Python.  I've programmed in both quite a bit, 
and I can't imagine using Perl over Python for this purpose.  Some things 
that spring to mind:
1. Python's interactive interpreter will let them get their feet wet 
   immediately and will continue to help them test code as they progress.
2. Multiple IDEs exist for programming in Python.
3. Python's core syntax is much simpler than Perl's.  Learning some of 
   Python's libraries will eventually be useful, but students can do a 
   lot of learning before even dipping into the library.
4. Python's design nudges programmers toward what I would consider a better 
   style and overall architecture.  I believe that coding in Python improved 
   my programming in all other languages that I use.  I think that some of 
   its design (indentation-based blocks, any file is a module, convenient 
   object-oriented support) make would really help students get off to a 
   good start.  
5. Objects and references are simpler to explain and use in Python than in Perl.

See also the "Making the Python case to my dept." thread from a few 
days ago.  The thread there was geared toward using Python at a University, 
but many of the same arguments apply in your case, too.


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