[Chicago-talk] Teaching kids perl

Alan Mead amead2 at alanmead.org
Tue Sep 13 13:04:27 PDT 2016


FWIW, I second Andy's suggestion that you start with a project that the
kids want to do. I think that's more important than the language,
although the argument for Perl (or Python etc.) is the same for BASIC;
you avoid the need to teach about compilers, etc. I think having
10-year-olds debug linking errors or inheritance issues probably
complicates trying to learn to code.

I learned to program because I wanted to play games and the only
software I had was the BASIC interpreter built into the OS.  In
contrast, my kids never had much interest in trying to write games
because they have endless software entertainment options (all far better
than they were likely to produce).  One of them showed an interest in
scripting to make cool things happen in Never Winter Nights. My students
who have learned to program were always motivated by a specific project.

I also second Andy's suggestion that web-based projects are a good fit
for Perl and attractive to kids. I may yet hook my daughter with this
kind of project.

Another area would be phone/tablet apps. I did a very quick google
search and I don't know how possible it is to use Perl to make apps.
This site, for example, looks dormant:
https://code.google.com/archive/p/perl-android-apk/ .

Pi projects might also be a good "hook." Most of the published projects
you'll find don't use Perl, but it is present by default on "Raspbian."

A lot of the "Saturday afternoon 'Learn to code!' classes at the civic
center" use something like Tynker.com. Or Scratch. I'm not very familiar
and certainly visual coding is mainstream for applications, but in
teaching statistics, I notice that my students are scared of syntax
(they're fine so long as something can be accomplished using wizards and
dialogs).  I don't think you're "really" learning to code unless at some
point you have to fire up emacs/vi or the equivalent.



Alan D. Mead, Ph.D.
President, Talent Algorithms Inc.

science + technology = better workers

+815.588.3846 (Office)
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I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe...
functions on fire in a copy of Orion.
I watched C-Sharp glitter in the dark near a programmable gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like Ruby... on... Rails... Time for Pi.

          --"The Register" user Alister, applying the famous 
            "Blade Runner" speech to software development

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