The Latest Thing

A few years back I was giving a talk on the choices in first-year CS courses at Waterloo during a campus-wide open house. At the time, Java was the dominant language, and I had just started to offer an HtDP-based course as an alternative. But one parent who came up afterwards didn't want to talk about Scheme. He said to me, "Why are you still using Java? Why aren't you using the latest thing?"

"And what is that?" I asked.

".NET," he said.

"For one thing, that's platform-specific," I said. "Another reason is that we don't teach specific technologies; we teach ideas, and how to learn them and use them. That way, when the next 'latest thing' comes along a decade from now, our students won't have to go back to night school to learn about it."

He winced, and said ruefully, "Like I did."

I felt bad. But his kid, standing next to him, got the message loud and clear.

-- Prabhakar Ragde

Last modified: Sun Jan 27 19:50:42 EST 2008
Stephen Bloch /