[racket] "The Disadvantages of High School Programming"

From: Robby Findler (robby at eecs.northwestern.edu)
Date: Tue Jun 8 17:13:25 EDT 2010

Seems right to me: if you teach poorly, you can hurt your students by
setting up false expectations. I don't think that is in any way in
conflict with our goal of teaching better in high schools.


On Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 4:05 PM, Benjamin L. Russell
<DekuDekuplex at yahoo.com> wrote:
> There is an interesting, if somewhat dated (posted on October 9, 2008),
> article, entitled "The Disadvantages of High School Programming" [1]
> (see
> http://compsci.ca/blog/the-disadvantages-of-high-school-programming/),
> 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
> http://compsci.ca/blog/computer-science-at-waterloo-the-new-scheme-of-things/).
> 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
> http://dekudekuplex.wordpress.com/
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