Teaching python (programming) to children

Peter Hansen peter at engcorp.com
Sat Nov 10 03:32:45 CET 2001

David Andreas Alderud wrote:
> Python is without doubt a very good language, but it's not good for the
> beginner because they will pick up bad practices, mostly because of the
> loose type paradigm.

This, of course, represents a value judgment on your part that loose
typing (and by the way, Python is *strongly* typed, but dynamically so)
is a bad thing.  In any case I would argue that the habits beginners would 
pick up learning Python would serve them well in the future.  When they get
to a statically typed language, or a weakly typed one (Python is neither),
they will question *its* value and ease of use.  

> For teaching programming I strongly belive that Ada95 is by far the best, it
> teaches the students how to write good code; 

No, good teachers who promote consistent coding style, modular
design, unit testing, and so forth teach students how to write good code.
The language has very little to do with it, except insofar as some
languages get in the way of that, while others do not.  Python does not.

> I do believe that at least in
> universities Python should be the language of choice beyond the first year
> studies, unless doing hardware or AI programming.

Python has proven very effective for hardware programming.  Yes,
via a DLL or driver or something, but then again very little of
what constitutes "hardware programming" involves access to the
hardware, and most involves what you *do* with that access.
AI programming is apparently best done with LISP according to
some, but I've found Python nice for, say, genetic algorithms,
so I wouldn't say it represents a necessarily *bad* choice.

Peter Hansen, P.Eng.
peter at engcorp.com

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