Jane Sutherland on Scheme and C++

High school math teacher Jane Sutherland reports on her experiences:
I think several of you will have remembered my hesitance with Scheme. I just attended the workshop in Houston this Summer, and let me just say that it took a while to get used to. Well, today I really shocked myself. I have 2 introductory Scheme classes of about 25 each. I called into the office to speak with a Vice Principal today. I was approached earlier by a guidance counselor concerned of my language transition. One student had demanded that he change classes because he wasn't getting his time worth. He had been exposed to C++ a bit and was determined that I was depriving him of an education. Well, I said that I had a reason.

Today, in the VP's office, I discussed why Scheme was so much better of a beginning programming language. I never knocked C++, but I explained the method behind my madness. I had convinced myself, the principal, the district's director of instruction, and the computer chairman that what I was doing was teaching, not showing. I was tired of 30 minutes each lesson being spent on debugging syntax. Scheme solves problems and my students ask "reasonable" questions, not "What does this error mean?"

I know that I was a stick in the mud for a long time, but I see where Scheme is going. Now, I think in one year these students will be better prepared for C++ AB exam on AP. I have yet to get more than 5 pages ahead of my students, but this is my learning time as well. I don't want to give anyone more of an ego about Scheme, but I do want to thank you for the opportunity to teach and not correct papers.

Thanks again, (BTW: 7 days down and Section 2 is covered... I hope that's ok for a start.)


Stephen Bloch / sbloch@adelphi.edu