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We are teaching Functional Programming Wrong

Today Richard Feldman shares his story of going from javascript developer to elm developer to functional programming teacher.  Along the way, Richard finds that people are teaching functional programming wrong.  We are teaching it in a way that misses how most industrial software developers learn best.

In this episode, Richard Feldman delves into Elm, his approach, and how to make teaching delightful.

Podcast Transcript

If you want to get a different outcome than what previous teaching methods have done. I think you need to try to do things differently.” Richard Feldman

“If someone says like, “Hey, can you recommend a really good book to get into Haskell?” And if they’re not a grad student, I’m like, “I really don’t have any strong recommendations for you”. If you want to use it at work or you want to use it to build stuff like there is not a single book on Haskell that I’m aware of […] where like, Hello World is like earlier than a chapter three.” Richard Feldman

“I felt like I knew everything about programming or like I knew close to enough that I was getting diminishing returns and all of a sudden I used Elm and I was like, I know nothing.” Richard Feldman

“This is so much better than what I thought was available. I didn’t know anything like this could exist and then that’s what I wanted to do. I just wanted to build more stuff in Elm. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing ever since.” Richard Feldman


Book: Elm in Action

A Taze of ATS

Elm Language


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  1. Thanks for a great episode!
    At this point tried a bunch of functional languages – Scala, Haskell, F#. So far only F# stuck with me, but I think I’m definitely going to learn Elm after this 🙂

  2. I always enjoy your podcast but this one was especially delightful. I’m totally on the theory end when it comes to functional programming so the way Haskell or ML books are structured always felt natural to me, but I can totally see how this would bore a practical programmer to death. It’s a valuable perspective to keep in mind. Even for me, my first experience with FP was learning the big three (map, filter, reduce) in JS, because that’s what I actually used to build things.

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We are teaching Functional Programming Wrong