The language is not the issue, or it shouldn't be.
The thought processes, the discipline, and the math are what
When I was first learning basic on an apple II (Ctrl-b got you
into basic, from assembler or some other equally useless language), I
had a math teacher who told me, "Pursue algebra and it will make you
a better programmer, pursue programming and it will make you a better
mathematician." It's true enough... How many times do you perform
a simple assignment or a join/grep/split that you couldn't have done
When you are first starting out, it's critical that you predeclare your
variables and comment your work. If you don't, you don't think about what
you are doing long enough to remember it. Putting into plain English what
you are doing makes it clear to yourself what you have to do
with a given sub or function. It's particularly useful when
you start to do OO stuff where you've got to be really careful
about what each class and object does.
The other idea is the thought processes. I have noticed that some people
just do not understand that a computer only does what you tell it to do.
How often have you heard the complaint, "My computer is possessed!" ...
(ehem... except when it really was, by BO...) The point is that all the
frustration with "teaching" a computer to do what you want it to do, can
be avoided if you sit down and think through each step calmly realizing
that each statement is telling the machine to do something in a particular
way to a particular thing.
In my opinion, these are all things that can be taught before
a child starts to program. If your children are old enough to begin using
numbers, spend time with them drawing clock faces with one
hand, ask them to count at all times, do their math homework with
them, stretch them beyond what their school is willing to teach, play
them in games of chess when they get old enough,
make an effort to spend time with them doing intellectual work.
It is an effort that you will be rewarded from as their concentration
grows. First of all, it will teach concentration and attention to
detail, second of all, they will remember the time that you
spend with them... and it will be a positive reinforcement kind
of thing. Mostly, if you show that it matters to you, they will
likely make it matter to them.
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