[racket] "The Disadvantages of High School Programming"

From: Benjamin L. Russell (DekuDekuplex at Yahoo.com)
Date: Tue Jun 8 17:05:46 EDT 2010

There is an interesting, if somewhat dated (posted on October 9, 2008),
article, entitled "The Disadvantages of High School Programming" [1]
by Roman Zimine, then a "first-year student at the University of
Waterloo's Math Faculty" (according to the byline), on CompSci.ca
Blog.  The article discusses the issue that certain students with a high
school background in computer science were having more difficulty in an
introductory computer science course taught in Scheme than students with
no computer science background whatsoever in high school.

The case of Waterloo is interesting because starting from fall 2008, all
first-term courses in computer science started using the programming
language Scheme running in DrScheme (see the related article "Computer
Science at Waterloo: the new Scheme of things | CompSci.ca/blog" [2] at

The article contends that some high-school programming courses focus on
"the idea of 'just making it work'," which interferes with the concept
of "[p]rogramming is communication," as taught in certain
university-level computer science courses.  The article argues that
"[b]asically, those who take programming courses in high school can find
themselves at a disadvantage, as they have to unlearn bad programming
habits while learning a new and very different language."

>From what I have read in some of the publications written by certain
members of the PLT Research Group, it would seem that this viewpoint
runs counter to the PLT goal of introducing computer science into the
high school curriculum.

Personally, I think that the issue is not that teaching computer science
in high school is bad, but that the quality of education is computer
science courses at the high school level should be geared more toward
"programming as communication," instead of focusing on the idea of "just
making it work."

Does anybody else have any ideas on how to deal with the problem
outlined in the article?

-- Benjamin L. Russell

[1] Zimine, Roman. "The Disadvantages of High School Programming."
_CompSci.ca Blog_. CompSci.ca Blog, 9 Oct. 2008. Web. 9 June
2010. <http://compsci.ca/blog/the-disadvantages-of-high-school-programming/>.

[2] Ragde, Prabhakar. "Computer Science at Waterloo: the new Scheme of
things." _CompSci.ca Blog_. CompSci.ca Blog, 18 Mar. 2008. Web. 9 June
2010. <http://compsci.ca/blog/computer-science-at-waterloo-the-new-scheme-of-things/>.
Benjamin L. Russell  /   DekuDekuplex at Yahoo dot com
Translator/Interpreter / Mobile:  +011 81 80-3603-6725
"Furuike ya, kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto." -- Matsuo Basho^ 

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