From: Bob Leif To: Ron Oliver et al. It is quite possible that the US Congress would not need to issue a large number of Hi-Tech visas for programmers if the schools had taught Ada and software engineering. I am appalled that any faculty member is either so totally incompetent or lacking in professional responsibility as to teach either C or C++ as an introductory course. It would be totally unthinkable to engage in this unprofessional behavior in the science and engineering departments where I have been either a student or a faculty member. As a biochemist, I would never allow the use of technical grade reagents or dirty labware. In fact, this type of behavior is so repugnant, that it would never be considered. As I have said privately before, one can make a much better case for the teaching Ebonics as part of an English class than C as a first language. -----Original Message----- From: Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95) [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of S. Ron Oliver Sent: Friday, October 06, 2000 5:38 AM To: [log in to unmask] Subject: Re: C++ as a first language I haven't yet read the dozens of other replies to your question, but I may as well give the TEAM my immediate feedback before I go on. At 11:30 AM 10/5/00 -0400, Wisniewski, Joseph (N-COMSYS) wrote: >My wife teaches mostly C++ over at a major community college outside >of DC. (No it isn't quite as bad as Carville/Matalin at home although >this morning there was a discussion of "our individual opinions" wrt >readability of C++ :--) ) > >Anyway, apparently there has been a switch recently from Pascal to >C++ for the intro class. The intro C++ is being taught without the object >oriented aspects of the language, so I guess it really becomes a >"C class using the non-object oriented constructs specific to C++ and >not in C, and using a C++ compiler", >from what I can tell. The professors there are very concerned because their >students are performing much more poorly than they did with Pascal as an >intro language. > >Now factoring out issues such as "teaching C++ for the first time" (which >maybe >is more important in all of this than the language) No, it isn't the "more important" factor. Even the poorest college teacher has likely dealt with language issues and crummy compilers before. Most of the students have not. C-class languages, in general, are just inherently unintelligible to intelligent students. And C-class language compilers offer little or no help, or even make things worse by giving confusing feedback when they give any. I believe these two factors are the major reasons C-class languages are such a poor choice as an intro. (They also happen to be two major reasons such languages are a poor choice for almost any purpose.) The irony is that if any competent person steps back and takes an honest, objective look at these issues, it becomes apparent that C-class languages are almost always a handicap, not an asset. Yet, note how many reasonably intelligent people have failed to do that. >..... well what are your >all >thoughts on this. Virtually the same thing happened, almost immediately, at Cal Poly when they ("we") switched from Ada to C++. Only the faculty there were not nearly so honest in admitting it. They hemmed and hawed about going to Java, and hinted they would have made that choice instead of C++, had Java been around longer at the time the switch was made. BUNK. What was REALLY tragic in the Cal Poly case was that Dalbey and I, working with a grant from DISA, had just demonstrated, with clear data to support the claim, a way to get students to progress even faster using Ada (our "programming-in-the-large" Lab approach) than we were able to do using Ada in the "traditional" manner. So, not only did Cal Poly faculty NOT take advantage of that valuable finding (sort of reneging on the department's commitment to DISA), but they took a giant step backwards, r.e. students' ability to learn and progress. You might want to point out to your wife one of the most serious results of the kind of switch they just made: There are a certain class of very intelligent students who, subconsciously or otherwise, will see that attempting to program in C++, especially at the intro level, is such a ridiculous enterprise, they will switch to another major. Then there are another class of students that, though they may be bright enough, really aren't particularly strong, academically, who, for reasons I don't fully understand, tend to LIKE the C-class language absurdity, and will be ATTRACTED into the C.S. program. I.e., the general calibre of students in the program will drop considerable, BECAUSE you are teaching C++ as an intro. This is not just conjecture. This is harsh, painful reality that I lived through. sro S. Ron Oliver, semi-retired professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering. www.csc.calpoly.edu/~sroliver Tire of sucky software! ? Check out www.caressCorp.com and follow the links to software sucks and The Oliver Academy.