Why did I include Basic and Python? Because traditionally, from 1970s, Basic was the teaching language of choice. A terrible choice, we’d all I hope agree – with the benefit of 2020 hindsight. Nowadays my hunch is that Python is the leading teaching language in schools but I’d be very open to correction by any passing stats nerd.
The irony is that Jaime admitted to having only learnt programming through Fortran at university (I hated it too) and Fortran was probably the biggest reason the much-disputed and derided
today = “Tuesday”
money = 35000
chance_would_be_a_fine_thing = true
It’s clear Jaime had put that evil behind her and instinctively adopted the high-minded – not to say snobby – Haskell line:
Haskell has two separate symbols for
=because assignment and equality are not the same thing. Haskell just happens to be the first mainstream language that supports mathematical equality, which is why the language requires this symbolic distinction.
They are snobby, some of them. But not the great Simon Peyton Jones, one of two Simons I knew at Cambridge who have since been admitted to the Royal Society. (There weren’t many other names, to be frank.)
The last time I spoke to Simon, after a talk of his in London in 2017, it was to ask how he thought the teaching of coding is going in UK schools. He wasn’t terribly optimistic but he was at pains to say that Python he thinks is fine for kids, not the much more mathematically pure and rigorous language to which he has devoted his adult life.
In their choice, then, did the government intend to signal, subliminally, to those who have learned at least a modicum of coding, that it was ever so down-with-the-kids? I think we should be told.