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Re: [seul-edu] Language to teach 10 year olds

On Sat, Jul 14, 2001 at 05:31:16PM +0100, David Woodhouse wrote:
> I disagree. To do a service to people who want to learn programming, you 
> should teach them programming - the language doesn't matter, it's the 
> approach and the design which is important.

Sure.  I think that is true.  However, nobody programs in a vacuum. 
Whether you are 10 or 30, when you write programs you are communicating
with members of a community, not just with the machine.  Don't underrate
selection of a language based on what other people use.  If I choose an
obscure language for my child to learn, who are they going to be able to
share their creations with? 

I have an eager young teenaged friend with some considerable amount of
programming experience for his age.  I also have four children and a fifth
on the way, all of whom I would like to teach programming at some point. 
This teen has expressed an interest in working with my children to help
teach them Python.  As I'm also learning Python at the same time, and I'm
using it in personal projects with other friends, it only seems natural to
me to go with Python.  Together, we make up a local "community".  By
choosing this common language we all "speak", we can effectively and
comfortably communicate programming ideas across three different
generations.  I cannot see this happening nearly as well if I were to
choose some other language merely based on "suitableness for teaching
programming".  People and relationships are far more important in teaching
than the tools themselves. 

That being said, choosing the "right tool" is a valid question.  I have
ruled out some other "comfortable" languages (e.g. BASIC) based on my
ideas of what a good beginner language is.  But after weeding out some
lemons, and all other things being considered equal, I would choose Python
over Smalltalk given its familiarity among the people who are most
available to help with the children.

    nSLUG       http://www.nslug.ns.ca      synrg@sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
    Debian      http://www.debian.org       synrg@debian.org
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