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Re: Can a non-programmer teach Perl?

by clintp (Curate)
on Aug 17, 2002 at 16:08 UTC ( #190876=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Can a non-programmer teach Perl?

If he hasn't spent his book budget, perhaps he can take a look at my Teach Yourself Perl in 24 Hours book. I know it's used in quite a few community colleges as an introduction to Perl and programming and it might be instructive for this also. It's purposefully written not to leave anyone behind, but not insult your intelligence or patronize. It also doesn't teach (or mention) any more Perl than you need to get going.

That being said, some advice from teaching rank beginners:

  • The earlier comment about being honest: yes be honest, but don't put down the material or they'll think the *material* is stupid and not learn. Being a teacher he probably knows this already though.
  • Work through the exercises well in advance, remembering that even with a not-so-hip group, he's going to have 20 other opinions on how something could be done. And in Perl it's likely that most of them are right. Or at least syntatically correct. :)
  • He needs to be able to get a hold of *you* or another friend to ask "we'll talk about that tomorrow" questions. Posting to PerlMonks or Usenet would be a *terrible* way for him to get information and dispense it second hand. It has to be consistant (if not completely correct) and tailor made for his lesson plan.
And one final suggestion: paired programming. With students (espeically younger ones) you get the one-does-all-the-work the other-just-watches effect as a downside.

But on the upside they're talking about what they're doing and when Perl's scary and confusing syntax confuses them at least they'll have another point of view, try different combinations, pass the keyboard back and forth, and do *something* to try to break the mental roadblock. And they won't feel so silly asking stupid questions about why such-and-such won't compile.

But that's a fine balancing act with younger students.

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Re: Re: Can a non-programmer teach Perl?
by theorbtwo (Prior) on Aug 18, 2002 at 06:23 UTC

    If you're going to have groups (which is pretty well unavoidable if you've got more kids then computers, which from the sound of things, you will), I'd suggest making them yourself, and changing them. That way, even if you get one kid who always does all the work in his group, the /same/ kids won't keep getting a free ride (and less of a learning experince).

    Of course, the teacher in question has taught a fair bit before, so should know this... right?

    Confession: It does an Immortal Body good.

      Conversely, if you've got a couple who just *aren't* going to learn for whatever reason (terminal disinterest and lack of trying) you can pair them together and prevent them from being a boat-anchor to others.

        I think that's a bad idea, simply because I don't like writing people off... which is what you're suggesting. You can take those people, and try to put them off on people who can handle them, which isn't really fair to the good people. Or you can take them and try to rotate them around, so they don't drag any one person down too much.

        Or, yes, you can write them off. Shrug.

        Confession: It does an Immortal Body good.

        The problem with that approach is that when paired with a similarly disinterested partner, the two may agree that they are boredand then seek to relieve that boredom by acting out.

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