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[school-discuss] Re: ISO: Good programming language to teach an 8yr old

Hello. I started programming at around 8 years old myself and now, a decade later, I'm a freshman majoring in Information and Computer Science. This is all of course just my personal experience and opinion, especially since I'm not an educator. And 8-year-olds nowadays seem a lot smarter than ten years ago.

Logo was probably my first scripting "language". School taught it in second grade. It was interesting for about an hour and got boring quickly.

My first real scripting was with HyperCard and its scripting language HyperTalk. That's probably where I've spent the most time playing around with in the last ten years. The natural language-ish programming made it easy to learn, and it was incredibly easy to script the user interface. You could write some pretty neat games with it, but you can also do some nice database-like things with little effort (HyperCard is essentially a visual, programmable database.)

HyperCard has since died out. The Hypercard clones like Metacard are still around, and Metacard runs on Linux I think (not sure if it's just the player), but they cost $$$. I think it'd be awesome if there were a (working), open-source Hypercard clone, including HyperTalk. As far as I know, there aren't any near completion.

PythonCard looks promising, but it still looks like something for older kids (middle to high school.) But hey, the kid you're tutoring may be smart enough to figure it out.

I'd recommend Python over any of the traditional languages like C/C++ and Java (or in my case, my first "real" language was Pascal) but it's still somewhat of a leap over simpler languages like HyperTalk or BASIC.

And then there's the issue of how to make it interesting. I wanted to write games in Pascal but my dad said, no, you have to learn math and pointers and system calls and all that other stuff. So my Pascal games ended up being primitive text adventures (first just numbered menu items, and eventually one-word commands). Which was fine, because I was still playing text adventures at the time and they weren't completely dead and out of fashion as they are now. Am I old enough yet to say that kids nowadays are spoiled by fancy computer and video games?

Maybe geeks still get a kick out of printing "Hello World" and printing out the fibonacci sequence.

Hope at least something in the above helps,

- Jason Lai

Bill Kendrick wrote:
>What's a good, kid-friendly language for today's kids to use (on Linux,
of course!)?