Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Coding In Schools

The NYT puts a sinister spin on their story:
At a White House gathering of tech titans last week, Timothy D. Cook, the chief executive of Apple, delivered a blunt message to President Trump on how public schools could better serve the nation’s needs. To help solve a “huge deficit in the skills that we need today,” Mr. Cook said, the government should do its part to make sure students learn computer programming.

“Coding,” Mr. Cook told the president, “should be a requirement in every public school.”

The Apple chief’s education mandate was just the latest tech company push for coding courses in schools. But even without Mr. Trump’s support, Silicon Valley is already advancing that agenda — thanks largely to the marketing prowess of Code.org, an industry-backed nonprofit group.
Go read the whole thing. 

I guess there's nothing wrong with being suspicious of Silicon Valley's motives, but there's nothing wrong with coding in schools, either.  Here are a few things I like about coding/programming:
  • It's unforgiving.  If you don't code it correctly, the program won't do what you want it to do.  The program will not give you "effort" points for trying, it just won't work correctly.
  • It requires sequential, logical thinking.
  • It requires "attention to detail", especially regarding syntax and "punctuation".
  • It teaches efficiency and optimization.
In these areas, coding has much in common with Algebra.


Ellen K said...

While I have no problem with coding as a class, it concerns me how is coincides with this story: http://time.com/4834112/millennials-gifs-emojis/
It seems millennials are loathe to actually form sentences, paragraphs and essays. They would rather send cute photos which may or may not be misinterpreted. While it seems amusing now to think about hipsters simply pointing and being misunderstood, when paired with coding as communication seems like a method to lock others out of the conversation and that is something we should never do.

KauaiMark said...

...another thumbs up vote!!
(from an ancient computer programmer of the 70's)

David Foster said...

"In these areas, coding has much in common with Algebra."

Indeed. And for most students, coding will be more interesting, because the code actually *does* something.

In the 1960s, Dartmouth College decided that programming should be part of a liberal arts education; that's where the BASIC language and the Dartmouth/GE timesharing system came from. Not sure when, but at some later point they must have dropped the idea, because I heard recently that they are thinking about reinstating it. (Though not with BASIC, I'm sure)

Anonymous said...

As if the students who already can't grasp grammar and basic arithmetic are going to be able to master programming? Please.