Linked by Kroc Camen on Mon 21st Jun 2010 19:49 UTC
General Development "For three years [my] son Ben, and I have engaged in a quixotic but determined quest: We've searched for a simple and straightforward way to get the introductory programming language BASIC to run on either my Mac or my PC. Why on Earth would we want to do that, in an era of glossy animation-rendering engines, game-design ogres and sophisticated avatar worlds? Because if you want to give young students a grounding in how computers actually work, there's still nothing better than a little experience at line-by-line programming." Looking beyond the immediate fear-inducing acronym BASIC, this article delves deeply into what it means to simply be in control--via a basic understanding of under the hood--of your own computer, and how our whiz-bang world of technology today is failing to bestow this understanding on this generation of would-be hackers.
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I prefer LOGO
by TheGZeus on Mon 21st Jun 2010 20:47 UTC
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and UCBLOGO is available for every major OS, and has a friendly front-end for Windows available.

I can't code for crap, mainly because I've haven't really tried in over a decade, but I understand the basics of what programming is, and what it takes to get <foo> to do <bar>.
I started with Apple LOGO in an Apple //c.
I remember the enormous feeling of power when I realised that anything I could tell the computer to do, and told it properly, it could do for me. Then I was massively disillusioned in High School when the only programming course was in C++ and spent 2 chapters on things like Univac and Eniac and the history of mainframes and military computing.
The teacher was over 70, had never written so much as a line of C, and spent most of the class period taking smoke breaks. I spent that class playing video games, like 90% of the students (though I also intentionally broke the computer's Win9X install, repeatedly). He graded it on a curve, and I, who had done literally no homework, got a D. This was in 1998 or so, before the bubble had burst, and they wanted to churn out C++ and JAVA programmers.

C++ as the first language for high school students? My first thought was "How do I make something happen??? This is all moving bits around! How much of this crap do I have to write before I can do... anything?"
Do low-level languages have their place? Yes, but not for kids who want to learn the _principals_ of programming.
Hell, I'd have been more entertained by some 6502 box and pure, raw, unadulterated assembly, because you actually _are_ moving bits around! Stuff is happening, exactly as I say.

Then again, the fact that they didn't try Python(or is that too high level?) or some lisp/scheme(PLT is everywhere, and has everything but a turtle in its standard library, really) is surprising to me.

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