www.oreilly.com -- Why I Promote Python
Consider an episode from my own life. I was around nine or ten years old and my father taught me how to do things on our Apple II using Basic. My dad was always much more of a hardware rather than software guy. Whenever I would tell him I wanted to do something more complex than we could find in the Basic manual, he would say, "You have to do that in assembly language, and assembly is too hard for a kid." He didn't mean to shut me down but he also didn't know 6502 assembly language himself and was not in much of a position to teach it to me.
My first language was a macro programming language for the dbase database. Keeping that in mind, I think I would agree with the article that the first programming should perhaps be a language like Python. However, the second programming language might be something like C, where a student can learn things like Pointers. I think, just as joel, pointers are important, even though they are hard.
However, once you've learnt the concepts and are down to implementing solutions, a very good language to work in is Python.