Back In My Day We Used BASIC And We Liked It
If you are a programmer of a certain age your first programming experience was probably typing BASIC statements into a computer with an 8 bit CPU. It could have been an Apple II, TRS 80 or even a Commodore 64.
If you wanted to learn how to program the choice was already made for you. There was BASIC or there was BASIC.
Personally, I started out in elementary school on an Apple II. I then saved up any money I had from birthdays and other gifts and bought a TRS 80.
It presents a problem though, if you want to teach kids to code. You will have to pick a language. It is unlikely to be as approachable and accessible as the BASIC prompt.
I’ve been reading up on the choices that are out there. I have put together this list.
Efforts have been made to devise curriculum to get elementary students interested in programming.
You can also download a special issue of the PragPub magazine that contains articles about teaching kids programming.
There is also a video of a talk about teaching a five year old to code in Ruby.
Going Back To Basics
Lately, I’ve been thinking that the best way to teach a kid to program may be to get back to basics. That is to say, BASIC on a TRS 80. It could just be nostalgia, but it is entirely possible.
There are TRS 80 emulators that will run on that $199 Linux dev machine.
Computing doesn’t have to be reserved for a special class of people. The key is to encourage kids to jump right in and start getting to know their computer.