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The next generation of Python programmers

The next generation of Python programmers

Posted Apr 24, 2014 22:58 UTC (Thu) by anselm (subscriber, #2796)
In reply to: The next generation of Python programmers by mm7323
Parent article: The next generation of Python programmers

Automotive engineers spent the better part of the last century making cars easier to use. This means that as a driver you no longer need to be able to take your engine to bits and put it together again the way you used to when the idea was new. However, driver education still attempts to give people a rough idea of how cars actually work, and a general awareness of this tends to make one a better driver. We still do need to push the pedals and turn the wheel ourselves to make a car go anywhere, although that is being worked on.

In the same spirit, a general awareness of how computers work will do people a lot of good, even though they should not be required to take them to bits and put them together again (in either hardware or software). Maybe in another 50 years or so, judging from how things went with cars, we will have figured out how to make computers truly usable. In the meantime, spending a semester or two in school writing short programs in something like Python will do nobody any harm, and probably give them a reasonable idea of what computers are actually about. It's certainly more useful, as life skills go, than dissecting frogs. Consider it pushing the pedals and turning the wheels while we're waiting for the fully automated computer that will do what we want without our having to spell it out in detail.

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The next generation of Python programmers

Posted Jun 9, 2014 21:45 UTC (Mon) by Duncan (guest, #6647) [Link]

Your automotive example reminded me of a family story from I'd guess about 70 years ago, in an incident that still rings true today.

My grandmother and her sister were travelling some distance, and stopped at a service station along the way for a fillup. Now the (crooked) operator offered to check the oil, and showed them the dipstick registering a quart low, so they bought one and put it in. On the way home they stopped at the same place, which evidently had a good price on gas as he was subsidizing it with oil sales, and the same thing happened. The poor engine ended up drowning in oil and they had a breakdown some way from home. My great grandpa had to pick them up.

First thing the next day he taught them how to check the oil themselves. Not how to change it, just how to check it, and where to top it off if need be.

Similarly, I've heard of people mixing up the oil and gas, and perhaps it's just the way I was raised (I remember several times helping my dad change a tire), but it still seems odd to me that so many people have to call a tow truck to change a tire!

An extremely basic level of automotive skills, knowing where the oil and gas go and how to check them, and how to change a tire, may not be absolutely required to "know how to drive", and arguably unfortunately that isn't covered on a driving test, but it sure helps, and that's as true today as it was about 70 years ago when that crooked gas station operator ended up killing the engine in my grandmother's car.

Same thing with computers. Having some idea of the basics so they aren't simply black-boxes really does help.

The next generation of Python programmers

Posted Jun 9, 2014 22:16 UTC (Mon) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Similarly, I've heard of people mixing up the oil and gas

But you are supposed to do that!

The next generation of Python programmers

Posted Jun 10, 2014 12:29 UTC (Tue) by mathstuf (subscriber, #69389) [Link]

I think the context here for "mixing up" is closer to "swapping", not "combining". (If you're just making a joke, carry on :) .)

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