|Keep It Simple, Stupid|
Can a non-programmer teach Perl?by Ovid (Cardinal)
|on Aug 16, 2002 at 23:53 UTC||Need Help??|
Ovid has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:
As many of you know, our schools are cash-strapped and cannot offer students the resources that they truly need. As a result, students sometimes have history books dating from the late 70s to early 80s, are packed into classrooms like sardines, and have instructors who don't know their subject material.
I need to figure out how to deal with that last problem.
Here's the scenario as I understand it: a local high school wants to teach Perl (yay!) to some students. Unfortunately, they had no teachers who knew Perl. One teacher was "volunteered" because he knows HTML and a bit of SQL. He's never programmed before. Many of us (including myself) at one time or another have had to deal with teachers who don't know their subject matter, but this guy is in a bad situation and needs to come up to speed, fast. I'm meeting with him in about 3 days and he has 2 to 3 weeks to prepare for a 12 week class.
From what I can gather, having him back out of the class is not an option, so what can we do to help? What I have tentatively come up with the book (gasp!) "Perl and CGI for the World Wide Web" (second edition, only). This book is significantly better than the first, though it still has some serious issue. It's primary benefits are that it is easy to understand, is aimed at the non-programmer, and teaches a little bit about Web-programming which has the "gee whiz" factor that the students will relate to. I've also mentioned my online course as a supplement to cover some of the more glaring problems with the book.
The teacher is going to read through the book and he has my cell phone number for emergencies. I'm also going to send him a short article that I had started on about good programming techniques. I am concerned about his ability to pull this off, though, because he is not a programmer. All of the teaching links that I have found here have assumed that the teacher knows his or her subject matter. What suggestions can we offer him that might be of use?
Caveats: many of the students will have trouble figuring out how to turn the computer on. Any introductory book has to truly be introductory and "fun". That's why I selected Elizabeth Castro's book (I wish their was a better alternative) for him to read. Any suggestions should take into account that neither the instructor nor his students are guaranteed to have any particular background.
And be nice. I'm going to send him this link :)
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