A Traditional Way to Learn to Program

Allen Downey has created a good traditional book for how to learn to program. What are the good non-traditional ways?

Comments (3)

  1. orcmid says:

    I’m interested in what has you call it "traditional" (apart from having "Hello World" as its traditional first program).

    I’m actually not so sure that this is about programming as much as using programs as ways to illustrate thinking like a computer science.  The tie-in to the Computer Science Advanced Placement (AP) examination is also interesting.  

    I find the web layout hard to read.  

    But what I notice most of all is that there is no effort to introduce use of an actual compiler and deal with the process of running and experiencing the operation and testing of programs.  

    The material is also descriptive and, although example based, does not involve the reader in any learning *activity.*  This reminds me of a tutorial (say for ALGOL) written in the days when most people did not have a computer and powerful software-development tools easily within arms-reach.

    I did a text search on "compile" through the first five chapters, and there was lots of talking about compilers but compiling was never demonstrated or illustrated, and until a side remark about behavior of a program in Chapter 5, the suggestion to compile anything to verify what’s happening is missing.  

    Oddly, you could fashion this into a Computer Science Concepts with Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition without much trouble, and it would probably be of great help to people.  I would not actually use the Computer Science Concepts label, because it would deceive people about what those concepts are.  Maybe Introduction to Programming with Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition. And have it be fully hands-on, with worked screen shots and examples, and many suggestions about exploration, verification, debugging, and making deployable (XCOPY or one-click) code.  

    Would that be non-traditional?

  2. orcmid says:

    Oh, and there’s always Squeak and scripting languages, but I don’t think the Squeak materials are clean enough.  There is also the problem of scaling out of the Squeak play-pen.  I still need to talk to some people who teethed on the original Smalltalk as school students about that.

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