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Pedagogical style [was Re: The "loop and a half"]

Am 05.10.17 um 19:04 schrieb Steve D'Aprano:
> On Thu, 5 Oct 2017 07:29 am, Christian Gollwitzer wrote:
>> To understand Stefan's way of teaching, take a look at his other
>> courses, for example the C++ course:
> Thanks for this Christian. It has been an eye-opener. More comments below.

You're welcome. Stefan is notorious for posting similar questions in 
c.l.c++ for years - asking about minute details of the C++ syntax 
(whether or not to call a "number literal" a "numeral" or similar) 
accompanied with code examples in a distinct unusual style. He's 
actually quite good in finding very concise C++ code for some (mostly 
mathematical) problems.

>> http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~ram/pub/pub_jf47ht81Ht/c++-kurs
> There's no link to the original paper, only to secondary sources that discuss
> it, e.g.:
> http://phys.org/pdf128266927.pdf
> so I cannot really judge the quality of the paper. It might be good, it might
> be full of holes, there's no way to tell.

Well you could read others who tried to replicate the study and found 
partially different results, and especially interpretations:


> (1) Programming in Python is NOT a formal system. Most programming isn't, and
> Python *in particular* is further away from the mathematical purity of (say)
> Haskell.

I think this is the main argument against this way of teaching. As shown 
in the subsequent study above, the "formal way" may have an edge over 
the concrete examples when the task at hand involves working with 
abstract sets - however programming is not about knowing all details of 
the syntax. Instead, programming is the skill to break a given task down 
into steps and either attacking the subtasks in isolation or finding a 
library which does it. Syntax plays a minor role in that skill.

Similarly, in Germany many people learn both Latin and English in high 
school. Latin is taught mostly by studying grammar books and learning 
vocabulary. English is taught mostly by stories and conversation. Most 
students can reasonably communicate in English, but they are usually not 
able to form Latin sentences on their own. However they can enumerate 
the inflection cases of nouns and verbs.