Teaching Python

news dcsmpayne at bigpond.com
Sun Jun 13 11:41:06 CEST 2004

You could consider using boa constructor or PythonCard. However, I fear you
will be disappointed ... there is just nothing (in any language) which comes
close to the GUI IDE of VB. Boa probably comes closest ... but it is one
heck of a steep learning curve.

BTW. I am also a high school teacher and previously taught VB until more
recent years when I have been encouraging students to enter programming
competitions. The feedback from comps continues to be "those who use VB
continue to under perform" ... most likely because VB allows one to focus so
much on the gui rather than the problem / logic. ANyway, last year I had a
very close minded group who wanted C++ at any cost. I refused and
compromised by teaching them Java. I have not been happy with this move
mostly because in NSW (Australia) we have a very restrictive syllabus which
focuses on "structured programming". Hence (IMO) students are disadvantaged
if they do anything other than VB. Similarly, this syllabus does not extend
to  cover OOP, design patterns and the like, so I would be shooting myself
in the foot if I attempted to cover these things. Java does allow
programming in the imperative (structured) style but is oh so bloody *&^%$
... students need to use it in an OO way to realise the true strength and
value of the language.

This year I am starting earlier (yr7) and introducing the students to
Python. To capture their imagination I am creating a unit on programming
Python games. Eventually I am aiming to be able to utilise the pygame
modules. Now I know it is going to take some time (more than I have with the
students this year), but it something different for them and I may attract
greater numbers in two years time when we will have the time to develop this
area. If I had the money I would buy a class set of Michael Dawson's -
Python Programming for the absolute beginner. Premier Press.

As far as an IDE goes I am going to stick with IDLE, build a reasonable
knowledge and skill base, then attack wxpython and / or tkinter before
moving on to pygame.
Darren Payne
Hurlstone Agricultural High School

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