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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,' 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 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 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 on Sunday May 11, 2014 @03:57PM (#46974339)

    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 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:42PM (#46974977)

    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. Also, my coding was the main driver behind my learning: symbolic algebra (you need that for coding) trigonometry and geometry (you need that for games), numerical integration and further calculus (you need that for programming motion) linear algebra (that's needed for physics, graphics and more) and lots of other things. Learning to code young is plenty useful. In addition to giving you ways to apply your knowledge from other fields, it helps you think logically, and if you are interested can get you started learning other useful things, be them computer science related or others. Its not hard, and I see no reason not to provide the opportunity.

    If everyone knew basic coding, physics and math classes could be structured to take advantage of it. Knowing to code really helps emphasize whats important: If you need to solve a class of geometry problems (say you get some parameters for a triangle and need to compute the others) coding up an application to do this can make sure you know about all the different cases, and when you are done you have something pretty useful. Coding is great for calculus (numerical methods) and physics. My advanced physics class in high-school got a bit into coding to do some simulation which was a great project, but would have been trivial to do if everyone new very basic coding concepts (they are language independent). I haven't done much chemistry, but I can basic coding being useful there too.

    There is a reason that I got an intro to coding from 6 departments at my university (Statistics, Math, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Applied Mathematics and Physics): Its so useful that even non computer science related fields covered it since it aided their teaching and the ability of the students enough to be worth it. If everyone has a basic coding background, those classes wouldn't have spent half the time on coding just so they could use it. Getting that over with once in middle school or highschool (or earlier) would allow these advantages to be available for much more of peoples education.

  • 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"?

  • 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.


  • 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...
  • 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.

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.