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[seul-edu] Thoughts on teaching programming
Some comments regarding the teaching programming thread.
Over the years as a 9-12 Computer Science Teacher, two considerations have
driven my programming-instructional languages choices:
1. The Advanced Placement Computer Science Curriculum for College Credit
(from the AP exam).
2. Availability of inexpensive and effective teaching materials
(text/lab/quizzes and tests/On-line help/programming software).
The AP (Advanced Placement) Computer Science Curriculum from the College
Board is changing from C++ to Java in the 2003-2004 school year. Since I
teach grades 9-12, some of my languages choices are driven by the AP
Curriculum (every 3-4 years I have enough advanced students to justify an
AP programming class).
My next AP class will be in the 2003-2004 school year, so my computer
programming/science curriculum is:
Computer Programming 1 - 1 semester - Visual Basic
Computer Programming 2 - 1 semester - Visual Basic and Java
AP Computer Science - 1 year - Java
As an aside, since Borland's Delphi has become available on Linux as well
as the MS-Win platform (under the name Kylix), I might consider converting
my introductory programming classes to that language, since it is more
universal than Visual Basic (and so is Python).
Price and quality of textbooks and other teaching materials also drives the
language choice. There isn't much time in the modern 9-12 teacher's life
to develop such materials, so good (and inexpensive)
textbook/lab/testing/on-line resources/software instructional materials are
I agree that a "simpler" and "more exciting" language than C++ is needed at
the introductory level, and that Visual Basic or Python are excellent
candidates. I'm not so sure about Ruby--I've written a couple of text file
editing/munging programs (with the book, "Programming Ruby" in my hands)
and I like what I've experienced of it, but I'm not sure it would be a good
I also teach some PHP in my Advanced Web Page Design class.
** It's not *just* teenagers **
Incompetence is bliss . . . as Justin Kruger
(http://www.psych.uiuc.edu/people/faculty/kruger.html) and David Dunning
"We found again and again that people who perform poorly relative to their
peers tended to think that they did rather well."