[plt-scheme] Question on Teaching Scheme with DrScheme

From: Erich Rast (Erich.Rast at t-online.de)
Date: Wed Nov 6 06:07:09 EST 2002

I'd like to throw in my 5 cents as someone who has experienced various 
programming environments since the early 80ies --while, most of the 
time, I've been my own teacher.

IMHO, some of the posts on programming languages for teaching focus way 
too much on language features. In my personal experience, motivation 
has always been the key factor for learning something, and I believe 
that the results, the actual outcome of programming efforts, are the 
most important motivation. Educational programming tools very often 
don't produce good-looking, platform-compliant end-user applications. 
To be honest, I have never seen a single exception to that rule of 
thumb. Along the same line, many of the "good" programming languages 
like Scheme make it very hard and too difficult for kids to create GUI 
applications at all.

That's why I think that RAD tools like -- no joking, I know you'll hate 
me for what I'll say now ;)-- VisualBasic (or Realbasic on the 
Macintosh) are the best teaching tools. Perhaps even an 8 year old, but 
for sure a 12 year-old can write his/ her own address book, calendar, 
diary application or mars-invaders game. That's a far better motivation 
than text in, text out applications or nice-looking, but pretty useless 

So I think that Scheme is a great language for teaching programming & 
data structures to adult students, because they know RAD tools and 
their deficiencies anyway and can be motivated by more theoretical 
questions, but for kids Plt Scheme would need some RAD capabilities and 
an easier way to get GUI-based *standalone* applications first. (Of 
course, this would also be a good thing for the "grown-up kids" like 
me--- does anyone work on something like Framebuilder for 202?)

But again, that's just my personal opinion.



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