Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Apr 2007 16:35 UTC, submitted by ShlomiFish
General Development "What makes programming languages are suitable or unsuitable as introductory languages? Which languages are better learnt first and at which order? And why what the masses think is the most suitable introductory programming language is not in fact that. This paper examines several approaches to which programming language is the best, and afterwards gives several useful relations for which languages should come first. Finally it gives a final verdict, defends it and then gives some other good food for thought."
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What do we want them to learn?
by Invincible Cow on Wed 11th Apr 2007 18:09 UTC
Invincible Cow
Member since:
2006-06-24

One thing is how to best teach programming, but I think the answer depends not on how easy it is to teach programming with a given language, but what we want students to learn.

I don't doubt that Python is an elegant, readable language from a human point of view, but it's very slow. Do we want to create hordes of programmers who create programs that, although they use the most efficient algorithms, are around 20 times slower than they have to be? I don't think so.

Now you probably think that I want to burden new programmers with strange symbols and programs that could just as well be written in cyrillic, along with the dangers of pointers and all that stuff. But no, teaching beginners C isn't a good idea.

So why not Pascal? It creates fast programs, compilation is fast (so you can test/run/test/run like an interpreted language), it doesn't look scary and it's strictly structured. What more can you ask for? (Yes, I know you just LOVE to write in a cool programming language that's unreadable, but is it really a good idea?)

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