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Education Programming

Kentucky: Programming Language = Foreign Language 426

jackb_guppy writes with word that "Legislation that would let students use computer programming courses to satisfy foreign-language requirements in public schools moved forward in the Kentucky Senate on Thursday." From the article: "Kentucky students must earn 22 credits to graduate high school, but 15 of those credits represent requirements for math, science, social studies and English — and college prerequisites call on students to have two credits of foreign language, [state senator David] Givens said. Meanwhile, Givens pointed to national statistics showing that less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science despite a high demand in the market and jobs that start with $60,000 salaries."
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Kentucky: Programming Language = Foreign Language

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  • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @06:29PM (#46068855)

    Good to know if I ever need a federal government job...


    This is either someone trying to beat the system, or perhaps the system beating itself to some degree. Why is the plain meaning of "foreign language" in an English-speaking country even up for debate?

  • 2.4% duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danomatika ( 1977210 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @06:33PM (#46068877)

    national statistics showing that less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science

    Only 2.4% percent, well yeah ... it's only CS people. Since when did technology development only depend on CS graduates? Last I checked, there are more and more focus/applied degrees every year which would probably take care of a good number of those positions. Not every job needs a theoretical background, and all of those job postings for "App Developers" probably don't require a hardcore degree a this point ...

  • by johnjaydk ( 584895 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @06:49PM (#46068989)

    Why is there a foreign language requirement anyway?

    Yesterday, my best friend spoke to an american supplier and told them that he wanted the goods shipped to Europe. Not some weird, small country but Europe. The supplier asked where Europe was in the US.

    I think You guys could do with a foreign langue or two. Not to mention geography...

  • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @07:01PM (#46069047)

    Which entirely misses the point of a broad education. If you look at it that way we'd do basic courses in the first 6 grades then farm everyone not going to college to a trade school. I believe there is a certain amount of general knowledge everyone should have so that a society can function. The problem in the last few decades is we've allowed too much dumbing down and now we're reaping what we've sowed.

  • Re:KY SB 16 2014 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by R.Mo_Robert ( 737913 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @07:30PM (#46069229)

    HS language courses are the biggest waste of time. Do you actually learn anything in a HS language class? Just enough to recognize the language you are reading, maybe make fun of the weird shit they do in other countries, but definitely not well enough to be able to converse.

    Actually, I took (four years of) Spanish in high school, then tested into the advanced Spanish classes in college, which were mostly composition and literature, and I only had to take them because I had a Spanish minor (or I would have tested out otherwise). I also studied in Mexico during this time and was obviously able to converse, but I learned the majority of that during high school and would have been perfectly fine then, too. Some people are just not quite as good at learning foreign languages as others, and certainly the quality of education varies (I went to a really small school, by the way, but I think we had good teachers, including one native speaker), but it's absolutely false to claim that you won't learn anything in an HS language class.

    A computer programming language, however, is completely different. While I think it's useful to learn both, this proposal seems to lump them under the same skill, and I don't think that's accurate or a good way to do it. (I have a BA in CS and an MA in linguistics, including applied/SLA, so I do have experience with both, by the way.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2014 @07:33PM (#46069243)

    Just wait 25 years. At that point, the Baby Boomers will mostly all be dead. The English language will die along with them. Once they're gone, America's most-used language will be Spanish. If you don't believe me, just look at any of the southwestern states. English is already clearly a dying language there. If you want to order fast food, or even buy some potato chips at a convenience store, you basically need to know Spanish. In a couple of decades, you'll need to be proficient with Spanish to hold down any sort of employment. At that point, you'll wish that you'd paid more attention during your Spanish classes. It will be exceedingly difficult for you to learn Spanish sufficiently well as an adult.

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @07:45PM (#46069303) Journal

    I call bs on your little anecdote. If someone was told to ship something to a place they weren't familiar with, they wouldn't ask "where in the US is that?". They would simply ask "where is that?" because they are already in this country and obviously assumed it was simply a place they didn't know about. Further I have never met anyone, no matter how uneducated, who did not know what Europe was.

  • Re:KY SB 16 2014 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @08:03PM (#46069427) Homepage

    While the AC's account of foreign languages in high school is likely reasonably accurate for a large number of people, I think that the increasing denigration of language skills (including English) is yet another trend that needs to be reversed in American schools. The problem for Mr. AC is that he probably took 1 year of Spanish and got little out of it. An hour a day for one year doesn't get you very far. I took three years of Russian, came out reasonably fluent and took another two years in college. No, it's not terribly 'useful' unless I decide to change to a life of cybercrime, but I think it's important to be able to think in another language, look at another culture carefully and come up with a less parochial world view. The latter being the most important part these days.

    Too many Americans don't understand the world past the 5:00 news. That is a truly scary thought.

    But, back on topic, computer languages and foreign languages are nothing alike academically and socially - but if something gets kids to think in high school, it can't be all bad.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @08:38PM (#46069633) Homepage

    For example, in no English class that I took was any tense other than past, present, and future named. To learn what perfect, imperfect, and pluperfect versions of those tenses were for I had to take French and translate it myself back into English

    I was = past
    I am = present
    I will be = future
    but you've never needed
    I have been = perfect
    I was being = imperfect
    I had been = pluperfect

    Pretty much all languages express the same tenses, it just depends on how. True, some languages don't have as many tenses but then it's usually indicated by word ordering or some other way. For exampe in German the difference between "I had money" and "I would have had money" is "I hatte Geld, aber.." and "Ich hätte Geld, aber...". In Norwegian it would be "Jeg hadde penger, men..." and "Hadde jeg penger, men..." and it's really all the same. In English extra words, in German new forms of words and in Norwegian different ordering of words. But the tenses exist as such and any language would have a way of expressing it.

  • Re:headline fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @09:40PM (#46069985)

    I think you're missing the real point here. Computer languages are NOT foreign languages. Foreign languages teach mental dexterity in the verbal domain and allow people to experiences worldviews other than their own. Computer languages teach systematic thinking.

    So what you really need here is:

    "Kentucky: Logic = Foreign Language."

  • Re: KY SB 16 2014 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @09:44PM (#46070005)

    Then you wasted your years in college.

  • Re:headline fix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Sunday January 26, 2014 @08:20AM (#46071969)

    Memorizing a thousand poems will not make your mind sharper

    No, but actually reading them might.

The person who can smile when something goes wrong has thought of someone to blame it on.