[OT] Re: Using Haskell for teaching [was: Help me decide D or C]

Russel Winder russel at winder.org.uk
Fri Aug 2 17:05:13 UTC 2019

On Fri, 2019-08-02 at 10:25 -0600, Jonathan M Davis via Digitalmars-d-learn
> My feeling is that functional languages are likely to be a very poor place
> for most folks to start learning, much as I think that they're great for
> someone to learn and work with at some point. I have heard of beginning
> programming classes using functional languages and having it go very well,
> but it seems hard to believe to me. Imperative programming can already be a
> lot for beginners, but most people really don't think even vaguely in a
> functional manner. Even simple recursion tends to be a bit of a mind-bender
> for people at first.

At UCL in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we used a functional programming
language in the first term and C++ in the second term for teaching
programming. Initially Scheme was the functional programming language but we
then switched to Miranda (which was a pre-cursor to Haskell).

This deep immersion in two totally different programming paradigms worked very
well. The mid/late 1990s mad rush to Java everywhere in teaching (of which I
was a part) was in hindsight madness (of a global sort). The move by many
institutions to using Python first and then Java rebalances somewhat but is
missing the point – it's about the paradigms. I have retrenched as a believer
in the Haskell/C++, or Prolog/Java, or some such. In the new era with new
undergraduates already knowing Scratch and Python, universities should really
go the whole hog in getting programming paradigms and programming as a skill
as well as knowledge, with all the tools,fair and square into the first year

Of course I have been out of academia for 20 years, and am now out of
employment, so my views have no impact. :-)
Dr Russel Winder      t: +44 20 7585 2200
41 Buckmaster Road    m: +44 7770 465 077
London SW11 1EN, UK   w: www.russel.org.uk

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