Re: "The biggest advantage of X is the fact that it has automatic memory management." - Joel Spolsky

Le Chaud Lapin <>
Tue, 21 Apr 2009 20:26:22 CST
On Apr 21, 11:30 am, Francis Glassborow
<> wrote:

Hakusa wrote:

I think a first language should be a scripting or assembly language.
Scripting because you can focus on 'what is programming' first and
assembly because you won't miss out on that low level understanding
missing in the education. And, I actually think teaching both at once
might be the best solution.

I would not dream of teaching assembler as a first language any more
than I would start by teaching winding a coil to someone starting with
electronics today. (yes, assembler for an IBM 1130 was the first
language I learnt after a rudimentary intro to FORTRAN IV, and I started
my learning of electronics by making crystal sets and made all the
components myself -- including cats whiskers and crystals)

Francis, why?

I agree with Hakusa here.

My first two languages were BASIC and Intel 8086 assembly.

I think one language should be used to give programmer a basic
foundation to ground himself. Then a no-nonsense language should used
to remove any illusions (delusions) that might develop, like
expectations of concurrent execution in a single-threaded application,
or the idea that an inherently-compiled language like C++ could be
somehow coerced into automatic generation of XML-binding between class
fields and strings on disk. A person who has survived the fire of
assembly language will have an intuitive appreciation of the non-sense
of this proposition. By contrast, a person whose first language is
Perl might not know what it means for "65" to be at the beginning of a
file, whether it is one-byte ASCII code representing the Latin letter
'A', or two bytes representing the ASCII codes for '6' and '5' (real
example - computer lab director did not know, nor did any students).

As an educator, you already know that there is a massive erosion of
competency taking place in academia. I think this erosion is an
inevitable part of the cycle of technology. As the pool of people who
call themselves skilled in the art increases, average competency

I have no problem with this problem, as long as we all remain acutely
aware that it exists, and make sure we don't wake up one day
programming in a language with only four keywords and three levels of
run-time interpretation, that has "built-in crash protection" so that
"no program ever crashes", but only "expresses its discontent" via
congenial give-and-take with the programmer.

-Le Chaud Lapin-

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