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Education Programming

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding 125

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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  • 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.

  • 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

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson