Bruce Eckel on Python as a teaching language
From the latest Artima interview:
One of the things I find that’s remarkable about Python is that it has a very even learning curve. Maybe it’s not even a curve, It’s kind of a straight line. Learning Python has a zen-like quality, because Python doesn’t try to make the world something else. The designers of Java wanted to make the entire world look like a Java virtual machine and the Java libraries. In addition, Java’s designers decided that the C++ approach of allowing functions and global variables in addition to classes is bad. So everything in Java has to be declared in a class. For that reason, Utah Valley State College stopped using Java as an introductory language. They actually teach C++ as a first language, because they found it a lot easier.
Python would make an even better first language to teach programming. It’s such a gentle learning curve. You can start with scripts, and of course some people dismiss Python as a scripting language, because you can script with it. You start teaching scripts. You can teach functions. Then later you can add classes. Then you can go onto things like metaclasses. Python has many more of these powerful constructs that you can learn when you’re ready. And I think that’s very impressive, because it doesn’t say you should only be an object-oriented programmer.