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Re: peasant revolt against DrScheme!

>>>>> "Michael" == Michael Vanier <mvanier@bbb.caltech.edu> writes:

Michael> I thought some of the readers of this list might be
Michael> interested in this story, which appeared in the Caltech
Michael> student newspaper today.  It shows how far we still have to
Michael> go to win the Hearts and Minds (TM) of potential programmers.

Michael> Here at Caltech, the CS department decided this year to use
Michael> DrScheme to teach the introductory programming class (CS1).
Michael> This class has a history of controversy with regards to the
Michael> choice of language; students invariably want to learn C, but
Michael> the faculty believe that C is not a good introductory
Michael> programming language (and they're right).  In the past,
Michael> they've tried java, JJ (a subset of java designed as a
Michael> teaching language) and now DrScheme.

Michael> A poll was taken of students in CS1 who had been through the
Michael> DrScheme syllabus.  Fully 78.2% of them said that they wished
Michael> that C had been taught instead, while only 3.5% were happy
Michael> with the choice of DrScheme.  The perception seems to be that
Michael> scheme is only of interest to academic computer scientists
Michael> and is not a useful tool for real-world programming.  Since
Michael> most of the students (62%) were not CS majors, their interest
Michael> was in learning something they could use in the Real World.
Michael> Interestingly, many of these non-CS types plan to make a
Michael> career in programming.

We also started doing Scheme-based intro CS last year.  We're doing it
the second time around right now.

While we didn't have anything close to a peasant revolt, we had quite
a few students who were complaining well into the semester that we
were not doing C, C++ or Java.  We did some polling and an extensive
review and seem to have figured out why this is so:

While learning the language is certainly easier than with other
languages (no arguments here), the sadist lecturers out here
immediately used that advantage to cover much more difficult material
in the lecture than in traditional courses.  Not the kind of thing
likely to make you popular.  We had *complaints* (from 1st-semester
students) of the sort

"I just talked to a friend at a neighboring university and he showed
me a 3rd-semester homework assignment which he considered hard, and it
was totally trivial."

When reviewing the course with the students, it turned out that the
problem was mostly motivational.  So, for this year, I did a little
15-minute dance telling students that we don't have time for the
details of C++/Java because we have so much ground to cover, and that
their careers would benefit from knowing more stuff, and that they'd
learn all those other languages, too, later.  We also do periodic
parenthesis jokes.

No complaints about the language so far, and we're almost done.

There's still some superstition that Scheme is no good for GUI
programming (for some reason, it's always GUI programming, I haven't
figured out why---even though they're looking at the DrScheme GUI
every day).  We'll fix that two weeks from now.

Cheers =8-} Mike
Friede, Völkerverständigung und überhaupt blabla