Experiences/guidance on teaching Python as a first programming language

Mark Lawrence breamoreboy at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Dec 17 18:44:55 CET 2013

On 17/12/2013 16:59, Grant Edwards wrote:
> I've always thought C was a great language for low-level, bare-metal,
> embedded stuff -- but teaching it to first or second year computer
> science students is just insane.  C has a certain minimalist
> orthogonality that I have always found pleasing.  [People who smile
> wistfully when they think about the PDP-11 instruction word layouts
> probably know what I mean.]

I agree with you here, but wasn't there a tie-in between C and the rise 
of Unix via universities, or am I barking in the wrong forest?

> But, exposure to C should wait until you have a firm grasp of basic
> algorithms and data structures and are proficient in assembly language
> for a couple different architectures.  Ideally, you should also have
> written at least one functioning compiler before learning C as well.

I never had a problem with C as I'd written assembler for RCA 1802, 
Ferranti F110L and DEC/VAX, plus CORAL 66.  Hum, a bit of a fib there, I 
recall vainly struggling with a C for loop before I finally realised I'd 
effectively written a CORAL 66 one, page 50 here 
http://www.xgc.com/manuals/pdf/xgc-c66-rm.pdf for (ouch!!!) anyone who's 
interested.  Using a Whitesmith's pre-ANSI C compiler didn't exactly 
help me either.   IIRC printf was spelt format and all the formatting 
codes were different to what became standard C.

My fellow Pythonistas, ask not what our language can do for you, ask 
what you can do for our language.

Mark Lawrence

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