teaching OO

Alan Gauld alan.gauld at btinternet.com
Mon Dec 6 10:02:00 CET 2004

On 24 Nov 2004 18:31:13 GMT, Gabriel Zachmann
<zach at cs.uni-bonn.de> wrote:

> You know, I keep wondering exactly what we will be teaching as programming
> languages become easier and easier to learn.
> Programming itself? -- won't be enough for a whole semester.

Oh no way. You could teach a whole semester just using flow chart
stule diagrams. The concepts of programming stay the same
regardless of language. You just won't need to spend so much time
on syntax, you can focus on the real issues like jump tables,
data types - and how the data structure shapes the code
structure! Issues of locking, error handling strategies,
threading, event-handling etc etc... All of these stop being
advanced features and move into mainstream. Someday.... :-)

> Another question is: can you teach effectively the inner workings, if you
> teach only a dynamic language?

Yes, its just different inner workings. :-)

But to be serious. I've never quite understood the sense in
universities teaching students about how C++ VMTs etc work.
They are only relevant to one language - and possibly one
implementation of one language since they aren't part of the
standard - and languages change on a ~10 yearly cycle. (Which
means Java should soon be making way for the Next Big Thing -
BEPL maybe?...)

Concepts like hashes and jump tables and generic compiler
techniques are universal but how a particular language is
implemented is only of marginal value IMHO. It would be 
like an Electronics professor spending a lecture dismantling 
an oscilloscope and discussing the circuit diagram - mildy
interesting, but ultimately pointless!

Alan G.
Author of the Learn to Program website

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