Introduction and Education

Kenneth Fogel kfogel at
Mon Mar 2 20:16:41 UTC 2020


I am a teacher in a program called Computer Science Technology at Dawson College in Montreal for 31 years now. We take students mostly out of high school but also some adults returning to school and in three years train them to be software developers. It is three years of hands-on instruction with Java, for the past 18 years, as the primary language (it was Cobol before that). Some of you may know me from my outlandish proposals on Twitter such as eliminating main, an idea Cay Horstman first proposed a few years ago, and questioning why we still need to write 'new'. Regardless of what you think about these ideas they come from my interest in improving Java's reputation and ease of learning in the education space.

Its not just about adding or removing features. As Brian has pointed out to me on numerous occasions there is a finite set of resources to make changes in the language and what may be simple to describe could be unmanageably complex to implement. So in discussing education it is not just about changing the language but about how we present what is already in place in such a way that teachers can do a better job. An example of this is 'records'. When I did a little iOS programming I loved the @synthesize (may not be exactly the right term) and having records has given me many new ideas on how to teach Java.

Let me begin with this thought. Should all proposals for changes to the JDK et al also include how such changes could be explained to teachers and students? I recognize that some features cannot be so simply described. I used to tell my students that if they read their code out loud their grandmother should understand what they intended. Clearly something very unlikely today. Still, if we can describe features and syntax of Java in ways that a teacher or student could understand then the language may be even more relevant in education.

So tell me what you think here or shout at me @omniprof.

I'd love to see an Education mailing list here. Advice on how to start one will be appreciated.

Thank-you for your time,

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Ken Fogel
email: kfogel at<mailto:kfogel at>
phone: (514) 931-8731 local 4799
Dawson College, 3040 Sherbrooke St. W Westmount, Quebec, H3Z 1A4, Canada
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