I taught myself how to program using the BASIC books located in the Radio Shack stores and typed them into the (new) TRS-80's they had out. (Yes I am THAT old) I then moved on to using Assembly (Z80). At the moment I can code in 23 languages, and I think in C so there can be a progression.
Although I completely agree that one needs an introductory language to bridge the gap between language arts and programming, the last time I checked Dice there were no openings for Wolfram programmers. I do however remember all the hype around the various instances of BASIC and I can attest to a large number of VB apps that were written (very poorly) by non-programmers. Coding past an interpreter syntax does not qualify you as a programmer.
I see this entire discussion, including the various calls for CS education in the public schools as yet another instance of what killed my profession: the incorporation of unskilled labor. I am CCIE #12981 and there was a time when having that certification meant I could pull down a well paying job nearly anywhere. Now it almost doesn't matter because so few organizations need highly qualified networking resources. They have farmed out networking to a 3rd party, or they have a few slightly skilled resources that keep the lights on. I see the same thing happening to software development, and we as a culture will continue to suffer under the risks of running poorly written applications, because corporations don't see the need to hire highly skilled developers. Shoving all students into the pot via mandatory CS education, or promoting BASIC languages like Wolfram will only make that worse.
If you want a programmer you don't start with a language. You start with math and specifically with logic. The language used is a mere vehicle for the expression of concepts and as such learning its syntax is secondary. Rather teach principles, such as "Always check your inputs, and your return values" which is true in any language.