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Re: Functional Paradigm popularity and Maths (Was: XML as a transitionto s-expr)

As many of you may know, PLT Scheme started as an effort to teach Scheme in
high schools. DrScheme (the environment) is specifically designed to grow
with the students. Here are some observations: 

1. The REPL matters. That's why Python can try to do the same thing. The
   immediate feedback that students get from evaluating small expressions
   etc. is the hook. 

2. The language tower matters. As much as we hate to admit it, 

       beginners make mistake. 

   And when they make mistakes they often get obscure error messages about
   features that they have never heard about. That's true for Scheme, Perl,
   Python, C++, Java, you name it. 

   Consider   price * number_of_items = total 
   That's what I watched a first-timer type into some C++ editor. 
   The hi-liting was beautiful. But you should have seen her tears

   It matters that we have error message that are appropriate for the
   students' level of knowledge. 

3. The bad news for Schemers: Parens cause mistakes. 

4. The news for others: It is much much easier to build a gentle slope in
   () Scheme than in any other language. 

5. We have experience with students from 7th grade through freshmen years
   at all kinds of colleges. The nutshell: Once we get students hooked on
   Scheme, many love it and don't like very much what they see afterwards. 

-- Matthias