Don’t Distract New Programmers with OOP

Thomas Gumz sent me a link to a blog entry entitled “Don’t Distract New Programmers with OOP“. Having just wrapped up one year of teaching “Intro to Programming and Problem Solving” to students at Clark College, I could not agree more. One of the core outcomes of my class is centered around functional decomposition – how to break down a problem into smaller, simpler parts.

When I get asked “What’s a good first programming language to teach my [son / daughter / other-person-with-no-programming-experience]?” my answer has been the same for the last 5+ years: Python.

I get this same question almost on a daily basis from so many people. Admittedly, before I started teaching the class I questioned the use of Python for new programmers. Well, guess what? It’s the perfect language and I have the results to prove it.

Did we cover object oriented programming in the class – yes, but not to the level that most would expect. We did just enough for students to wrap their heads around the concept. In fact, one student tried to use OOP for their final project and had a heck of a time. In fact this student was pushing for more OOP content and after the class concluded they admitted that OOP was much harder then they expected it to be.

The shift from procedural to OO brings with it a shift from thinking about problems and solutions to thinking about architecture. That’s easy to see just by comparing a procedural Python program with an object-oriented one. The latter is almost always longer, full of extra interface and indentation and annotations. The temptation is to start moving trivial bits of code into classes and adding all these little methods and anticipating methods that aren’t needed yet but might be someday.

Be sure and read the blog entry as I think that you will agree with avoiding OOP in an introductory programming class. If you are interested in learning more about pursuing a programming career drop me an email as I would love to help.

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