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Education Programming

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-and-tell dept.
theodp (442580) writes "The NY Times reports that the national educational movement in computer coding instruction is growing at Internet speeds. 'There's never been a move this fast in education,' said Elliot Soloway, a professor of education and computer science at the Univ. of Michigan. But, cautions the NY Times' Matt Richtel, it is not clear that teaching basic computer science in grade school will beget future jobs or foster broader creativity and logical thinking, as some champions of the movement are projecting. And particularly for younger children, the activity is more like a video game — better than simulated gunplay, but not likely to impart actual programming skills. 'Some educators worry about the industry's heavy role,' adds Richtel. 'Major tech companies and their founders, including Bill Gates and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, have put up about $10 million for Code.org,' which recently announced its CS programs will be rolled out to more than 2 million students — nearly 5% of all U.S. K-12 students — at 30 school districts this fall. Among the 20,000 teachers who Code.org says have signed on is Alana Aaron, a fifth-grade math and science teacher who, with her principal's permission, swapped a two-month earth sciences lesson she was going to teach on land masses for the Code.org curriculum. 'Computer science is big right now — in our country, the world,' she said. 'If my kids aren't exposed to things like that, they could miss out on potential opportunities and careers.'"
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Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

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  • Computer science? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Once again, another ignoramus has the false idea that coding is all there is to computer science. I don't expect the actual 'education' to be all that great, as usual.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mathematics is key; yet we have the blind leading the blind..

      Just like there's a difference between being a code monkey and an engineer.

      Either way you'd be better off teaching your kids to be accountants, lawyers, doctors, or just about anything else. Programming is not a profession, and programmers and technology workers in general are exploited by those who control the finances.

      I'm happy I left the cube world behind, and can do what I wish now.

      Understand compound interest, or you will pay it to those who

      • Understand compound interest, or you will pay it to those who do..

        History shows that if you "win" with compound interest, you will later be executed by your fellow man. And, rightly so.

        • If shove comes to putsch you can always hire half the plebs to kill the other half.

          You pay in arrears of course.

      • Mathematics is key; yet we have the blind leading the blind..

        Coding is also key. CS is a lot more than just coding. But writing code is a fundamental skill. So is math. The difference is that if there is a flaw in your mathematical proof, you may not know it. If there is a flaw in your code, it doesn't work. Coding is better for teaching logical thinking because you get immediate feedback, and you can't fake it.

        • by gweihir (88907)

          Aehm, have you used software in the real world? Many coding errors are _not_ readily obvious.

    • There are elements of coding that require planning, logic and completeness that have impacts far beyond computer science. Teaching people to rack servers and install operating systems becomes for focused and resembles learning a trade. While there are plenty of positive outcomes of learning a wide range of computer science skills, I see the effects of learning how to code as having a wider positive effect

      • by Guy Harris (3803)

        There are elements of coding that require planning, logic and completeness that have impacts far beyond computer science. Teaching people to rack servers and install operating systems

        Neither racking servers nor installing operating systems are elements of coding. They may be useful skills, but they have nothing to do with coding.

        • by narcc (412956)

          That's what he said. Did you miss it?

          • by Guy Harris (3803)

            That's what he said.

            What he said was "There are elements of coding that require planning, logic and completeness that have impacts far beyond computer science. Teaching people to rack servers and install operating systems becomes for focused and resembles learning a trade."

            This says nothing about the latter two items not being elements of coding, so, no, that's not what he said.

            He doesn't explicitly say they are elements of coding, but he mentions them in a sentence immediately following a sentence that mentions elements of

            • by narcc (412956)

              Well, I can't argue with a guy who has trouble with basic reading comprehension. Enjoy pretending that you're right.

              • Well, I can't argue with a guy who has trouble with basic reading comprehension.

                Neither can I. Goodbye!

              • by Guy Harris (3803)

                Well, I can't argue with a guy who has trouble with basic reading comprehension. Enjoy pretending that you're right.

                Nope, so I won't bother arguing with you any more.

                • If you look at the original post, the AC was disparaging the article for focusing on coding over the 'rest' of computer science

                  My intent was to point out that coding involves a set of skills that have a wider general application than just focusing on computer science, which could be likened to training a person for a trade

                  I thought that I was being clear, and other posters seemed to get it, but you missed the point and essentially repeated what I said

                  Thanks for playing

                  • by Guy Harris (3803)

                    If you look at the original post, the AC was disparaging the article for focusing on coding over the 'rest' of computer science

                    My intent was to point out that coding involves a set of skills that have a wider general application than just focusing on computer science, which could be likened to training a person for a trade

                    I thought that I was being clear

                    One thing you said was "Teaching people to rack servers and install operating systems becomes for focused and resembles learning a trade." "Teaching people to rack servers and install operating systems" is, of course, not part of computer science at all; it's also not part of coding, so its relevance to a discussion of coding and/or computer science is, at best, unclear.

                    (Presumably you're not saying something completely insane, such as likening teaching computer science to teaching people to rack servers

    • Coding is basic to technology.

      What's worse then a 'computer scientist' that codes? A 'computer scientist' that doesn't!

      But engineers and scientists all need some coding skills. If only for problem solving. Coding is necessary to competently use a computer to solve problems.

      Basic coding should be picked up naturally by kids going into any STEM track. It's a natural fit along side math. Start simple and mechanical...

      • What's worse then a 'computer scientist' that codes?

        Oh, I know, I know! A computer scientist that doesn't know the difference between "then" and "than"!

        • Or better yet a computer scientist who creates a smarter parser to distinguish "then" from "than".
          • Easy: a computer scientist who would like to create a smarter parser to distinguish "then" from "than," but doesn't code, and so writes a spec outline instead. (Presumably in Word.)
        • Nah. How about one who writes a sentence with no verb?

          If only for problem solving.

          What an oik. Anybody would think he graduated from a UK university.

      • by Zmobie (2478450) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:17PM (#46975165)

        Coding is necessary to competently use a computer to solve problems.

        I have to strongly disagree here. I work as a software engineer and I have seen both sides of this coin. I have seen multiple people working as software engineers that could model and create respectable algorithms that couldn't use a computer beyond that to save their lives. CS =/= IT. I have also seen people that couldn't write "Hello World" if I gave them Eclipse and had it auto-create and format the shell for them, but they could do stuff with Excel and other pieces of software that I was unaware that software even had those features.

        I am all for this movement of we need more software developers, because we have tons to be done and no where near enough people (course this kind of works in my favor, but that is neither here nor there), but bottom line is software development is not some elementary skill that you should teach every kid in the world. Some people are just not geared to do it. That doesn't mean that software developers are inherently better or something, just different. There are still plenty of things these people can do. I just feel like we should make sure the opportunity is there (which in a lot of cases it is not right now), not try to cram it down everyone's throat (like what some of these movements are doing, and in many cases they seem to only have a rudimentary understanding of what they are trying to do).

        Code.org specifically I am on the fence about still, but there are quite a number of these other movements that are just plain hogwash ("learn to code in a year, in your spare time!" yea, right).

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @04:31PM (#46974527)

      "Coding" is nothing more than translating what computer science created into what a computer understands. Equating computer science with coding is like equating architecture with putting down bricks to build the house.

      • Re:Computer science? (Score:4, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:02PM (#46975077)

        "Coding" is nothing more than translating what computer science created into what a computer understands.

        You are using a very narrow definition of "coding". Decades ago, a "computer scientist" would design an algorithm and perhaps draw a flowchart, then a "programmer" would implement it with pen and paper in a language such as FORTRAN, then a "key-punch operator" would key in the program and print the Hollerith cards. Today, nobody does it that way. Algorithms are designed directly into a high level language, and typed directly into the computer, by a single person. When people like Bill Gates talk about "coding" they are encompassing the entire process of algorithm design, implementation, and testing.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          "Computer science" is the science of finding iterative solutions to abstract problems. It existed long before computers (as we use the word today) did.

          Further, there is a world of difference between being able to use code to glue several third-party components together, and being able to create novel algorithms that solve hard problems. I have interviewed several candidates for senior level software development positions where I work, and some candidates with impressive resumes cannot, during the intervie

        • Re:Computer science? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Opportunist (166417) on Monday May 12, 2014 @08:45AM (#46978187)

          Yeah. And as astonishing as it may sound, "journalist", "writer", "photo reporter", "editor", "typesetter", "lector" and "printer" used to be different people instead of one.

          Time changes. Automatism does away with jobs, either eliminating them or offering enough automatism that it can be handled by someone who doesn't have 3+ years of training in it.

          Works in all kinds of trades.

          We're still far from when bricklayers may design houses because static has become trivial.

      • Big hairy rat knackers.

        I've taken the beancounters' rules for posting depreciation and coded it without there being a computer scientist near the building.

    • by nbauman (624611)

      Once again, another ignoramus has the false idea that coding is all there is to computer science. I don't expect the actual 'education' to be all that great, as usual.

      The problem is that we have billionaires leading our education system into the latest fads rather than having educators and scientists leading our education system using what has been proven to work (and avoiding what has been proven to fail).

      • Re:Computer science? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:18PM (#46975175)

        having educators and scientists leading our education system using what has been proven to work

        Where is the "proof" that what we are doing works? I live in California, and the three big things the "educators" are pushing are 1) Common Core, 2) Credentialed Teachers, and 3) Smaller classes. Here is the number of controlled studies that I have seen that show that that "Common Core" is effective: 0. Teachers with education credentials have been found to be LESS effective than teachers with degrees in other subjects. Teachers with advanced degrees in education, have found to have NO improvement over teachers with bachelors degrees in education (both are inferior). Lastly, there is astonishingly little evidence to show that smaller classes improve student performance, considering the billions spent on implementing them. Smaller class sizes have been shown to be beneficial in only narrow circumstances, specifically poorly performing students in lower grades. And in even then, there is some evidence that the real benefit is quieter classrooms rather than smaller classes. For brighter kids, the smaller classes often reduce performance, because they are more likely to be compelled to follow along with the class, rather than read ahead. So please tell us, where is the evidence that educators are using what has been "proven to work"?

        • In some places they do.

          http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/n... [mass.edu]

        • Re:Computer science? (Score:5, Informative)

          by nbauman (624611) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:47PM (#46975621) Homepage Journal

          having educators and scientists leading our education system using what has been proven to work

          Where is the "proof" that what we are doing works? I live in California, and the three big things the "educators" are pushing are 1) Common Core, 2) Credentialed Teachers, and 3) Smaller classes. Here is the number of controlled studies that I have seen that show that that "Common Core" is effective: 0. Teachers with education credentials have been found to be LESS effective than teachers with degrees in other subjects. Teachers with advanced degrees in education, have found to have NO improvement over teachers with bachelors degrees in education (both are inferior). Lastly, there is astonishingly little evidence to show that smaller classes improve student performance, considering the billions spent on implementing them. Smaller class sizes have been shown to be beneficial in only narrow circumstances, specifically poorly performing students in lower grades. And in even then, there is some evidence that the real benefit is quieter classrooms rather than smaller classes. For brighter kids, the smaller classes often reduce performance, because they are more likely to be compelled to follow along with the class, rather than read ahead. So please tell us, where is the evidence that educators are using what has been "proven to work"?

          I didn't say all educators and scientists were using what was proven to work, I said they should lead with what was proven to work. Some educators and scientists are doing that.

          My major sources of information that has proven reliable over the years are:

          (1) Science magazine. They regularly publish evidence-based reviews of what works in science education and education generally. I subscribe and most of it is paywalled, unfortunately.

          One of the things that works in science is organizing students into study groups. That may seem obvious but most teachers don't do that and a lot of students aren't in study groups. Science had two special issues on minorities in education and they published the research on what works and doesn't work in science education.

          They also reported on the studies of preschool, which does seem to work, although it has to be done carefully. One thing that doesn't work is teaching kids to read (which George W Bush thought was the purpose of preschool). The benefit of preschool seems to be teaching kids how to socialize, so that when they do learn to read they won't be discipline problems. By the time kids are in Kindergarten and first grade, most of the damage has already been done.

          Science also examined high-stakes testing, and everyone agreed that the tests in No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top were not validated and so they're not showing student progress the way they're supposed to. For one thing, they're only valid for large populations, not for individual teachers. It's like firing teachers by throwing dice.

          (2) Diane Ravitch, who used to be assistant secretary of education in both the GHW Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration. She used to write op-eds on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and the WSJ loved her, because she was a conservative and came out for high standards, high-stakes testing, against unions, etc.

          Then she said that after she reviewed the data, the evidence didn't support NCLB and RTTT. She said the one factor that was most strongly associated with academic achievement was family income. So if you want to judge teachers by their results, you should bring everybody up to the starting line and increase their income.

          Second, she said, high-stakes testing didn't work. It didn't reflect the teacher's teaching ability. It merely reflected the student's family income.

          Third, she said, charter schools didn't work. When the data came in, they were doing worse, on the whole, than the matched public schools and unionized schools they were intended to replace.

          Fourth, she said, community scho

      • But if we let bureaucrats and so-called eggheads make decisions that's communism and it makes baby jeebus cry.

        Whereas skateboardface is by definition the smartest person ever because he's got loads of money. Yay AMERICA!

    • Aye diddly aye, duly seconded!

      On top of that, "at internet speed"? What the cunting fuck is that even supposed to mean? Is that like literally even more than totally exponentially fast?

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      These are grade school kids we are talking about. Arithmetic isn't all there is to mathematics, but you have to start somewhere. Do you really expect to go into computer science theory to a bunch of kids?

    • by gweihir (88907)

      I have more than a decade of CS education (including a PhD). In all that time, I had about 20 hours of "coding education". That gives a realistic perspective of how important coding is in CS. Sure, you need to know how to do it, but it is about in the level of being able to read and write, i.e. you must have it, you must be good at it, but it gains you nothing.

  • ...the rudiments of organizing work into a series of logical steps, some dependent on others, then maybe this will help the kids.

    The world doesn't need more code monkeys, but kids who have technical skills AND project management skills may get further.
    • start with learning logical foundations, then offer specific implementation skills if they desire it

      at least you would end up with admins that have some foundations in development skills, rather than admins who memorized the manual for their favorite tech stack

    • by xtal (49134)

      The people doing the funding there most certainly need more code monkeys..

    • by PRMan (959735)
      My daughter is taking this right now and she showed it to me. Basically, then start by moving a character. Then they have to automate the moving of the character. Then, they have to make if thens and loops to move the character. I was actually pleasantly surprised.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    growing at Internet speeds

    So, really fast for anyone who can afford a decent education and unbearably slow for everyone else?
  • by Hussman32 (751772) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @04:12PM (#46974409)
    It seems to me if you add coding to math curriculum, it would enhance both. In my high school during the '80's, boolean logic was not discussed at all, nor were principles like recursion, numerical approximation, and general algorithms. If those were added to algebra, geometry, and shown how computers help solve normally unsolvable problems (e.g. the simple pendulum without the law of sines approximation), the students understanding of both math and computer science would synergistically increase.
    • ..for average high school teachers.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        ..for average high school teachers.

        This is because they have education degrees, not Engineering or Mathematics degrees.

        You don't really need to know math to get your Education degree. You just need to B*S* and/or cheat your way through one or two math courses.

        • by Zmobie (2478450)

          To be fair, unless you actually GET a STEM degree, that is pretty much what everyone does. It was rather pathetic when I took my math placement test for college, out of the entire probably 300ish people that were taking it during my introduction block/week, about 2 maybe 3 of us (I know because the lab tech told me) tested out to Cal 1 which was the highest you could get (Me and another guy were from the same high school class and both took our AB Calc exams, already had credit). 70% tested either college

          • by mysidia (191772)

            Hell, when I did digital logic, half the class was fucking horrible at boolean arithmetic of any form and they WERE engineering students. I quickly discovered most of them were cheating off of the handful of us that actually understood how to do it.

            Wow.. and those were engineering students. I specifically suspect that it is freshman level College Algebra (non-calculus), that the non-STEM majors mostly cheat at -- or get through without actually properly learning the material to a reasonable level of comp

    • It seems to me if you add coding to math curriculum, it would enhance both. In my high school during the '80's, boolean logic was not discussed at all, nor were principles like recursion, numerical approximation, and general algorithms.

      Coding isn't math. Nor is it boolean logic, recursion, numerical approximation, or algorithms. Coding is writing a program and that program may or may not include those things.

    • by s.petry (762400)

      Exactly! This is what we don't do most of the time in education, and can't usually because we focus on taking tests. Algebra introduces the basics of variables, and Algebra based Physics should be introduced at the same time as Algebra. Trig is visualized by Music, but kids are not required to take any type of music and when they do, it's to learn an instrument and not musical theory. Calculus is visualized by Calculus based Physics. Logic is introduced in Rhetoric, as is Debate. Programming logic is

  • Silicon Snake Oil (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nbauman (624611) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @04:42PM (#46974569) Homepage Journal

    http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejou... [vt.edu]

    Stoll re-emphasizes his belief that the most comprehensive educational programming and technology systems could never replace a quality teacher. He recalls his own experience in a graduate physics class. The professor is discussing radiative transfer as Stoll is daydreaming in the back of the classroom. The professor realizes that Stoll isn't quite following the lecture and pauses to ask Stoll a few questions. Caught off-guard, Stoll has to think quickly and come up with a valid response. Fumbling through his first few questions, Stoll is skillfully led to the answer by a talented professor, using the only educational tool available; the Socratic method. Stoll states that there are plenty of computer programs that calculate radiative transfer, and even admits to writing some of them. However he believes that there are no software programs which could have taught him "as effectively as goofing off in Professor Marty Tomasko's class did" (p. 120).

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Yeah, so? Is it your contention that adding programming to the curriculum will lower the quality of instruction for some reason?
      • by nbauman (624611)

        Yeah, so? Is it your contention that adding programming to the curriculum will lower the quality of instruction for some reason?

        No, it's my contention that good teachers know how to teach and can introduce programming (or not) into the curriculum in ways that will contribute to the educational process.

        It is my contention that when programming (or anything else) is introduced to the curriculum by billionaires who are handing out money for the latest untested fad, it will lower the quality of instruction.

        It is my contention that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg don't know much about education, aren't qualified to decide what belongs in

        • by timeOday (582209)
          OK, but what is the snake oil?
          • by nbauman (624611)

            OK, but what is the snake oil?

            Clifford Stoll used that title for his book which argued that computers in education were being hyped beyond the evidence.

            • by timeOday (582209)
              But this story isn't about throwing computers into the classroom to improve performance in other areas. It's about teaching programming for its own sake, mainly because it's an employable skill.
              • by nbauman (624611)

                Education is subject to fads.

                Something like film strips or video spreads over the country, promoted by the companies that sell it, and all the teachers use it.

                A year or two later, they realize that it's not improving education significantly, they get bored, and move on to something else.

                Innovation is great, as long as you realize that most innovations don't pan out.

                If you really want to improve education, you should try these programs out in small pilot programs, then controlled trials where one group gets

    • Statistically speaking, no student will ever be in a class with a professor like Tomasko. I assume there is a backup plan for the teachers who manage to make the student hate something they liked?

      • by nbauman (624611)

        Statistically speaking, no student will ever be in a class with a professor like Tomasko. I assume there is a backup plan for the teachers who manage to make the student hate something they liked?

        You have to teach those teachers how to be like Tomasko.

    • by matbury (3458347)

      Experienced teachers are with you on this one. They've seen wave after wave of the latest fads in education come and go; at first they're a paradigm shift, a game changer, a revolution in how we should be learning and teaching, and we hear amazing and incredible success stories (and I mean incredible in the literal sense). Give it a few years, once the real (mediocre) results come in, the failures, the issues, etc., and then we're all ready for the next learning and teaching fad to come along.

      Developing sof

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Indeed. There are only two effective way to learn skills that require a high-level of mental development: With a competent teacher or by yourself. Any "teaching software" is usually worse than a good book. And the teaching software can be tricked, the book cannot.

  • "Some educators worry about the industry's heavy role"

    That's because the industry wants only one thing, plentiful programmers, which equates to cheap programmers. This is a barefaced attempt to flood the future programming market and depress wages. Obviously it also means that a lot of kids, almost certainly the majority, are being taught skills of little to no value. So much for potential opportunities and careers.

    • by narcc (412956)

      Well, programming is ridiculously easy. I'm sorry, but being able to write computer programs does not make you special, indicate that you're above average, or whatever else it is that supports your ego.

      Perhaps you should have also developed other skills?

      • Re: No kidding (Score:4, Insightful)

        by russotto (537200) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @08:10PM (#46975721) Journal
        Actually, judging from the proportion of people who can't do it (even among those who claim they can), being able to write computer programs does make me special. But you could say the same for wiring a light switch or installing a faucet. Most people have no technical skill at all.
      • by Hadlock (143607)

        The average person has trouble diagnosing network problems on their home PC; programming a computer to do things it doesn't already do, or even scripting a sequence of events is beyond most people who aren't already in IT. Putting together a dashboard for ten or twelve of our critical processes is so far beyond most people in our company that the old one wasn't able to be maintained and I'm having to write a new one from scratch. Being able to see how things are put together, then rearranging them to meet y

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... is not going to deteriorate itself. H1Bs are the short term strategy for keeping the salaries low. This is the long term strategy. If there were so many great opportunities in IT, surely people would be flocking to get degrees in IT.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:00PM (#46974665)

    miss out on potential opportunities and careers

    If you teach a 10 year old to write "code", that won't help them in 8 or 10 years time when they try to apply for a job. The "code" technology will have moved on in that time, so the stuff they learned a decade ago will be obsolete. The knowledge that a professional programmer has, has a half-life of a few years: maybe as long as 5 years in some areas - possibly as a short as 1 or 2 in rapidly developing fields of work.

    Since nobody can tell what skills will be needed in the next decade, learning a particular coding language, the "learning to code" is almost certainly teaching the wrong language to children. It would be far better to teach them basic maths, basic logic and how to think in abstract terms - rather than focusing on tangible, here and now, stuff that will produce children who can blink an LED on a Raspberry Pi today, but will have no clue about hw to deal with the "AI on a chip" they might be faced with when they start their professional careers.

    When I started my first job after graduating, the job description didn't even exist when I started my university course. So what is the chance that teaching 5 or 10 year children a specific computing skill will be relevant to their career prospects in 10-15 years time?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I didn't put knowing my multiplication tables on my resume. Stuff you learn when you are 10 isn't supposed to get you job security, its part of a learning process that will include more stuff in the future (Like vector calculus, and 20 other programming languages).

      I was taught coding when I was ~8 or so. Sure that language didn't end up as one of the ~20 programming languages on my resume when I graduated, but it really helped get me started thinking in logically robust ways, and learning other languages. A

    • I think some have pointed out that coding develops logic skills, but I think that's reversing the "real" direction -- that logic skills help develop coding (and numerous other technical skills! and even just plain mathematics understanding). And yet, I have not seen any discussion about logic in our rush to improve education. AFAIK, Common Core doesn't even mention logic ( I browsed through the standards once for a couple hours but I don't recall ever seeing it).

      Basic propositional/symbolic logic should be

    • Since nobody can tell what skills will be needed in the next decade, learning a particular coding language, the "learning to code" is almost certainly teaching the wrong language to children.

      Teaching several languages is just a vehicle driving all of the things you mentioned; they are all the natural results of learning multiple programming languages. Each language contributes to a person's understanding of abstract terms. Teaching multiple languages will even mitigate against the stupidity of "teaching the keystrokes" that currently infests most "introduction to computers" classes.

    • I learned Basic, visual basic, C, C with function pointers, C++, and of course others before my first job. Other than the framework, I've been learning the fundamentals of C# all along.

      Similar with scripting languages, for databases, for all manner of jobs.

      There are completely new ideas like NoSql, but it is hard to generalise irrelevance 20 years out. Did I learn C first? No, but I had to learn a throwaway language so I could generalise and apply when learning C. Ah, I can write my own MID function. I coul

    • Disagree. It doesn't matter that the language will change, what matters in a first step is just to convey the fact that computers can be told what to do, and "here's one way to do it." Rather than leaving kids to think computers are mystical video game boxes that can also run a spreadsheet or word processing app when you're being punished with real work, show them that they're very extensible.

      I got my start with a very small example from an interim Mathematics teacher who showed us how to program our TI-8

    • If you teach a 10 year old to write "code", that won't help them in 8 or 10 years time when they try to apply for a job. The "code" technology will have moved on in that time,

      Sure, unless you teach them C.

      Here, I've got a good rant about this:

      BOW DOWN MORTALS Before the one true language. The Ur-language that ushers in all the false idols. The Most Holy of relics...

      C

      The old gods are calling. Can you hear them? It's the sound of inevitability as the young usurpers weep into their transient drinks feeling their lifeblood leak away like so much memory. What pidly followers they amassed will blow away like so much dust. And where do they turn when all they hold dear is cast about on

    • by edis (266347)

      So, you are jobless now?

    • because you seem to suck at both...

      If you teach a 10 year old to write "code", that won't help them in 8 or 10 years time when they try to apply for a job. The "code" technology will have moved on in that time, so the stuff they learned a decade ago will be obsolete. The knowledge that a professional programmer has, has a half-life of a few years: maybe as long as 5 years in some areas - possibly as a short as 1 or 2 in rapidly developing fields of work.

      This seems incorrect. A simple back of the envelope regression analysis between 12 programming languages I used in school/work and the jobs available on monster.ca. Gave a R of about -0.1. So programming language age and jobs available appear to be uncorrelated. Now you will probably be tempted to drop back and punt. That is to make your argument way more specific (Oh I meant that Business knowledge W + Language X + IDE Y + Framework Z wouldn't be useful in 2025) how

  • Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

    So, what would be next?

  • My school district provided early exposure via apple II computers. They showed up one summer with an extracurricular summer workshop and then one to two per classroom, and a computer lab in Jr. High. And while there was an Atari computer at home, I basically had all of my meaningful early exposure to programming via the school district, and the teachers who were willing to spend extra time learning about and then sharing how to use them. Starting at probably age 8 or 9, I used basic and then later logo.

  • As with others, I do see teaching programming in the early grades as a bit counter productive. However, teaching problem solving skills at an early age is valuable. Furthermore, using code to teach problem solving skills offers opportunities for visualizing problems. While that isn't useful for all learners, it is certainly useful for some learners.

    There is something else that we should consider. Computers are going to be introduced into the curriculum whether we agree with it or not. Some of that is g

  • K-8 Intro to Computer Science Course (15-25 Hours) [code.org]

    Free to all, not a sampling, and includes all resources needed for off-line instruction and activities.

    Basic programming concepts are introduced in the second session ("The Maze") using graphical building blocks. You can expose the equivalent JavaScript code.

  • If you can't do the first three, what makes you think you'll get the Forth?

  • by johnrpenner (40054) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:23PM (#46975493) Homepage

    what would really help prepare children better than writing code is playing chess — it will help them learn how to think logically and consistently — if they learn it in chess first — learning all the various changing semantics of languages that may come and go will be trivial — if they got a good grounding in thinking properly through chess. a couple years of chess for grades 5-10 should be mandatory in every school curriculum.

    chess is even more important than learning to how to code — because to get anywhere with code, you have to immerse yourself in a language, an API, an IDE, and a way of thinking that is large, legacy, and arcane. by contrast, chess gets it down to the critical skills in a pretty efficient way.

    teach chess, then code later will be a piece of cake — because chess teaches the essential skills of grasping clear thoughts/moves in a facile way with the mind — and this mind muscle can be brought to higher level of logical consistency and clarity of thought with chess. something that is simple, yet lends itself to the greatest sophistication.

    another reason to teach chess is science standards — lack of critical thinking in regards to science is a reflection of a nation that has lost its ability to think clearly upon basic subjects. chess is the remedy for a lack of clear and lucid thinking on many subjects.

    one must work the mind, or it becomes weak, and unable to judge things very well — and then tends to be easily manipulated by political and emotional cues.

    2cents

    • a couple years of chess for grades 5-10 should be mandatory in every school curriculum.

      Please, no. You might as well say that we should require every school to devote a semester in middle school to Rubik's Cube solving.

      Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying chess is a simple puzzle that can be easily solved. I'm saying that chess is a strategy game, and like all strategy games, success is mostly a product of two things: (1) experience -- the more you play, the better you get, (2) ability to remember and recall standard strategies and scenarios. The actual abstract logic that you highlight is

    • That's pretty dumb. Unless there's a study showing a solid link between Chess lessons and early critical thinking development, this is going around your elbow to get to your ass. There are far more productive ways to work the mind. Programming is one, IMHO.

  • by Kittenman (971447) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:44PM (#46975605)
    This topic comes up once a quarter, or so. I agree with the gent above suggesting 'Chess' but in a different way. Teach the original abstract, not the implementation. If we've time and room in the curriculum, teach the kids logic. This will let them code, play chess, think, reason and analyze no matter what the end up doing for a crust in later life.

    And 'Critical thinking' - which someone had taught me that at Scumbag High. I had to work a lot of it out myself in later life. With Critical thinking around, we'd have a lot less homeopaths, psychics, spiritualists, gamblers...

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