Programming Languages for Beginners

This article appeared on Slashdot this morning, definitely worth a read. It’s something I have thought about on more than one occasion.

In grade school, every once in a while my math class would have a computer lab day where we would sit and type in those commands found in the math books (and other exercises). That was on an Apple II, and I remember going home and asking my dad if there was a way to do the same on our PC. After a little poking around on the hard drive, I found qbasic. I also recall saving up $40 to buy… this book. I read every page and did almost every question/exercise at the end of each chapter. I have tossed many of my old programming books, but this one still sits on my shelf.

I agree with the author that it’s a shame there aren’t accessible languages/tools for curious kids to explore with. I think Microsoft may be starting to realize how important this is, with their attempt with Visual Studio Express. But I think the kids still could benefit from something as simple as the old qbasic to ease them into the programming mindset.
I cringe when I hear younger relatives and those their age not even considering a use for their computers other than MySpace (more on that in another post), IM, and games. I know that it’s not for everyone, and that that generation has grown up around computers like my generation has grown up around toasters. But it still bothers me that none seem to take any deeper interest in this stuff.

I guess I’ll shut up now. Hopefully that made some sense.

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