That's an interesting point. As practitioners we spend almost all of our time looking at stuff that doesn't work because we haven't finished or it's broken.

That said, I disagree that the language doesn't matter. C++ is just too complicated, most "professionals" I know choose to ignore half the language -- until it bites them back. It's important to have at least one experience where the quirks of the language aren't the biggest problem...


On 7 Apr 2009, at 10:03, C.Douce wrote:
(forwarded on behalf of Andy Ko)

I'm amazed to see so many recommendations based on power, consistency,
expressiveness, and performance. These qualities are great properties
for people using languages on a daily basis to build shippable, robust
code. But in most cases, trying to teach what someone ought to know
ideologically (objects first, elegantly designed languages, etc)
overlooks the fact that the complexity of these languages quickly
exhaust any motivation such students had to start with. Unless one has
an amazing teacher to help every student overcome the upfront
complexity with sheer charisma, the only students still paying
attention at the end will be the ones with a high tolerance for failure.

My advice: tell the students upfront to expect constant failure,
intense debugging, and give them guidance on how to respond tp such
failures. Do that and it doesn't really matter what language you use
first. Teaching these courses is a matter of managing expectations and
providing concrete, reusable disgnostic strategies. Save the
principles for once they have these strategies, and they'll have a
much better experienced-based insight into how and why the principles

Andy Ko
Information School
University of Washington

(Andy: I have added your mail to both announce and discuss lists.
Cheers, Chris)

Chris Douce, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University,
Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
+44 (0) 1908 653 414

Steve Freeman
Winner of the Agile Alliance Gordon Pask award 2006

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