Experiences/guidance on teaching Python as a first programming language

Mark Lawrence breamoreboy at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Dec 19 06:36:26 CET 2013

On 19/12/2013 05:09, rusi wrote:
> On Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:20:54 AM UTC+5:30, Mark Lawrence wrote:
>> On 19/12/2013 04:29, rusi wrote:
>>> On Thursday, December 19, 2013 6:19:04 AM UTC+5:30, Rhodri James wrote:
>>>> On Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:51:44 -0000, Wolfgang Keller wrote:
>>>>> The only issue for me was to figure out how to do in C what I already
>>>>> knew in Pascal. And I had to waste a *lot* more time and mental effort
>>>>> to mess with that language than it took for me to learn *both* the
>>>>> basics of programming per se *and* Pascal in the first class at my home
>>>>> university.
>>>> It's sounds like you made, and are carrying on making, one of the classic
>>>> mistakes of software engineering: you're trying to write one language in
>>>> the style of another.  It is possible to write C code as if it were
>>>> Pascal, but it's a painful process and it won't be pretty.  It's far
>>>> better to use a language as it is rather than as you want it to be.
>>> Yes but the reverse is also true: Sometimes the best code in language
>>> L is first conceptualized in design-language D and then 'coded' into
>>> L.
>>> When we were students D was called 'flow-charts'
>>> Gone out of fashion today and replaced by UML.
>>> Now I expect the majority on this list to not care for UML.
>>> However the idea of a separate design language is not negated by the fact
>>> that UML is overkill and silly.
>>> eg Saw this (on the Erlang mailing list)
>>> In some Australian university (in the 90s) 2 sems of Cobol was
>>> replaced by 1 sem Scheme + 1 sem Cobol.  Students learnt more Cobol in
>>> the second arrangement than in the first. [Note: 'More Cobol' not 'More
>>> Programming']
>>> Now if you were to ask those *students* I would expect similar
>>> emotions towards Cobol as Wolfgang is expressing towards C.
>>> That is however a separate issue :D
>> If C is such a crap language, what does it says for the thousands of
>> languages that never got anywhere?  Or did C simply have a far larger
>> sales and marketing budget? :)
> Are you addressing that to me?

No, I never address individuals.  As far as I'm concerned I'm sending to 
an entire newsgroup/mailing list.

> [Assuming you are a good boy who does not use GG-crap and knows the laws
> of snipping and attributing I am taking it so :D ]

Please cut the sarcastic crap.

> No I am not in the 'C-is-crap' camp.  Very far into the opposite actually.
> What would you say to someone who says:
> - food is crap to eat
> - air is crap to breathe
> "C is crap technology" is analogous.
> If you are using python its likely CPython. Whats the C there?
> If you are connected to the net the modem likely runs a linux. Coded in?
> I am an Luddite -- dont touch computers.
> Right. The car I drive probably has embedded chips... Embeded linux.
> No Amish/Luddite is not enough to say "No!" to C
> You'd have to be completely isolated from every connection with modern
> civilization.
> So python programmers employ the 'black-cat' squad of GvR and gang to shield
> us from C.  Because they are good at it we can afford to ignore it.
> No, "No C" is no option.
> The only option is at how many removes we keep away from it.

I've no idea what most of the above is meant to mean.  Have you been 
reading too much RR or "Joseph McCarthy"?

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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