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Programming by poking: some experiences in teaching with Python


Part of the title originates from a quote by computer scientist Gerry Sussman on the new MIT introduction to programming course, which (in Sussman's view) focused more on building practical applications at the expense of many computer science fundamentals. The talk will look at some of the advantages and pitfalls of the increasing trend of using Python as an introductory programming language: partially through some personal anecdotes and partially through friends and colleagues' experiences. It will also look at the increasing divergence between those involved in software development and those who, educated through Python, are based in other domains as their primary job but are using their new Python-based knowledge to assist their daily work (in finance, insurance etc). I have rated this as Intermediate as some knowledge of Python will be needed as well as understanding some Computer Science basics (i.e arrays vs lists). Some side by side comparisons will take place using Python against Scheme (aspects of fundamental programming and comparing a 'traditional' computer science course re-written in Python), Lua (another contender for when I taught some basic programming) and C (comparison to another popular introductory language and low level details).


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