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Felienne Hermans: The Programmer’s Brain and Hedy

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Felienne Hermans is full professor of Computer Science Education at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Felienne is the author of the 2021 book The Programmer's Brain, a very readable and highly insightful introduction to the cognitive science behind how human brains learn programming. Why is programming hard to learn, and what can we do about that, both as learners and teachers? We recommended this for everyone, but it is particularly useful for those who just started to learn programming, as well as people who try to teach others. 

Felienne’s most recent project is Hedy, a programming language aimed at beginners – including children – and that realises many of the insights from The programmer’s brain about why programming is hard to learn. Hedy is a “real” programming language in that it is unapologetically text-based, but the language design is gradual, progressing from an extremely lenient but incomplete language to a nontrivial subset of Python. 

The language is under active development and constantly exposed to feedback from children who actually learn programming. We find this brilliant and are particularly impressed by the possibility of Hedy to teach some programming to everyone, rather than all programming to some people.