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We called it “magic”

Just under ten years ago I started working at Canterbury School doing a variety of things. One thing I wound up doing was building the new Intro to Computer curriculum, based on Python . When Vern and I presented our approach at PyCon in 2003, we were asked what advantages we thought Python had over its predecessor in the curriculum, Java . The first answer was always, “Magic; a lack thereof.” There was less boilerplate, fewer incantations, a much shorter list of things you have to wave your hands about and say, “Don’t worry, we’ll talk about this later in the semester. For right now, it’s magic, just do it.” Magic distracts students, and makes them wonder what you’re hiding.

Seeing a comparison between Java and Clojure (albeit one you can read as more about succinctness than clarity), I was reminded that this lack of magic — boilerplate, ceremony, whatever — is still important.