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Education Programming

Disney Thinks High Schools Should Let Kids Take Coding In Place of Foreign Languages 328

theodp writes: Florida lawmakers are again proposing a contentious plan that would put coding and foreign language on equal footing in a public high school student's education. Under a proposed bill students who take two credits of computer coding and earn a related industry certification could then count that coursework toward two foreign language credits.

"I sort of comically applaud that some would want to categorize coding as a foreign language," said Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. "Coding cannot be seen as an equivalent substitute." Disclosure records show that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has three lobbyists registered to fight in support of the bill. Disney did not return an email seeking comment, but State Senator Jeff Brandes said the company's interest is in a future workforce... Disney has provided signature tutorials for the nation's Hour of Code over the past three years, including Disney's Frozen princess-themed tutorial.
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Disney Thinks High Schools Should Let Kids Take Coding In Place of Foreign Languages

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2017 @06:46PM (#53808849)
    Donald Trump executive order generator.
    http://hepwori.github.io/execo... [github.io]
  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by negRo_slim ( 636783 ) <mils_orgen@hotmail.com> on Sunday February 05, 2017 @06:47PM (#53808853) Homepage
    Coding is not for everyone and not everyone will gain even a modest benefit from learning coding. Furthermore this shit is going to be highly automated over the coming decade or two. We need to teach kids stuff to make them well rounded, not just a fucking outdated cog.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @06:56PM (#53808889) Journal

      I think my bigger issue is that programming languages and spoken human languages are two rather different thing. While both are "languages" in that they are descriptive, structured and functional, they really serve pretty vastly different purposes, and I'm not at all sure one gains the same value from coding as from foreign languages.

      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @07:12PM (#53808965) Homepage Journal

        Too many languages anyway. Just standardize on ASCII and insist on English. Problem solved. Many problems solved.

        Just look at Slashdot: We never have to put up with any non-English here (well, except for TFSs, but that's just because the editors are illiterate) because the Slashcode, it doesn't truck with nasty shit like Unicode or UTF-8 or whatever.

        You want bullets, or special currency symbols, or Chinese? No. Not gonna have any. (No editing your posts, either, get your damned stuff 100% right the first time, like every programmer does, see?) And no pictures. As we all know, pictures are worth a thousand words, and every post would be worth more than TFS, so none of that here. Write it, don't sight it.

        So yeah, teach em English and ASCII and let 'em loose on the world.

        Serve the bloody world right for letting us elect Trump, anyway.

        Besides, 7-bit text should be enough for anyone. My Televideo terminal is still 100% good with ASCII. If those dimweasels hadn't stopped putting RS-232 ports on computers, I'd still be using it.

        ATH0, bitches.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          " insist on English. Problem solved. Many problems solved."

          Not really, you'll need to learn Mandarin to be able to understand the people paying you, and you'll need to learn Hindi to be able to train the people replacing you.

        • by jimtheowl ( 4200185 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @08:46PM (#53809301)
          I have to assume that this is coming from a uni-lingual Anglophone perspective. Although English is presently the international language of business, it does not mean that it will remain so over time, neither that everyone should conform to your expectations of convenience.

          The perceived problem is only from your perspective. From mine, knowing more languages is not a problem, it is an exercise in expansion of the brain. Music is even better. Further more, I find English to by a somewhat dry language. I express myself differently in French and Spanish and would love to be fluent in Russian, German, Mandarin and Cantonese.

          As for ASCII have it your way, but I prefer EBCDIC.
        • Esperanto, French, Swahili, even Lojban. Why English of all the languages out there? Parochialism, or Americans too dumb to learn a second language?

      • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @07:16PM (#53808995) Homepage

        Close but not quite there. The problem is there is no basic coding language. It would be like teaching 4 completely different versions of Japanese (not far off the mark) and to make it even more interesting, new versions could come out and old versions die. Before anything can be done about teaching a computer programming language a new one needs to be designed from the ground up that much more closely aligns to the English language and the language of mathematics including it symbol. It should not be some bullshit excuse to feed billions in profits into some shit company like M$.

        New language, free of copyright and patents and that adheres to rules of English and maths. Until them the corporate douche bag, ass hat, greedy fuckwits can bugger off.

        • by tgv ( 254536 )

          > The problem is there is no basic coding language.

          Yes, there is. And it's called, drum roll, BASIC. Perfect language for kids to learn one or two things about programming. For programming, the important thing is to learn to express yourself explicitly. The language itself is not that important. Only the talented ones will continue anyway, and they should learn other languages, and preferably other styles (functional, logical).

          However, I agree that it's total nonsense to give up foreign language educatio

      • and I'm not at all sure one gains the same value from coding as from foreign languages.

        You don't say... ;-) [wikimedia.org]

    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ElectraFlarefire ( 698915 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @06:58PM (#53808899) Journal

      Expose every kid to programming? Sure! Force every kid to 'be able to program' no.
      Treat it like Ceramics or Drama.. A pass should be 'I did the exercises and now I know what it's like'.
      And like those subjects, those who really like it/are good at it will continue on and do the 'real' programming/CS subjects. Those who have no affinity at all for it can move on to what they are good at.

      • I agree with this.

      • Chances are that many people will accidentally generate more programs than ceramic objects in their later jobs, though. At least starting with spreadsheets.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Decades ago students had to learn Latin. It was a requirement for entry to some universities, and mandatory in some schools. It's completely useless as a language, being dead and all, but it taught logical thinking and reasoning. It proved that the student could apply themselves, and gave them useful skills that they could apply to other things.

        These days people use an undergrad degree in the same way. A degree in botany might not be very relevant to being an account manager, but it's proof that the person

    • Re:No (Score:4, Interesting)

      by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @07:00PM (#53808909)

      I've heard this argument before:

      Typing is not for everyone and not everyone will gain even a modest benefit from learning to type. Furthermore this shit is going to be done by speech to text software over the coming decade or two.

      Math is not for everyone and not everyone will gain even a modest benefit from learning Math. Furthermore this is shit that is better left to mathematicians coming decade or two.

      Writing is not for everyone and not everyone will gain even a modest benefit from learning Math. Furthermore this is shit that is better left to nobility.

    • I think everyone should at least be taught basic coding, just as everyone should be taught basic calculus, art, biography, poetry, some foreign language or two, music, physics, shop, etcetera. Enough to know what it's about, and enough to find out if you might like learning more or even be good at it. The goal is not to become good at it, at this stage, but to become well rounded as you state. Learning a little coding is definitely part of that in this day and age.

      I'm not sure if schools should be ser
    • This.

      I give lectures on the matter.

      It's like requiring every student to learn how to play the violin.

      The end result is predictable in both cases:

      1.) Most will never forgive the mother fuckers who made them do that
      2.) Many will do whatever it takes to squeeze by
      3.) Many more will simply never learn a note or line
      4.) A few will be mediocre
      5.) .001% will be prodigies

      America is moving to a service economy, and globalizing.

      There's much more need to speak to diversity.

      • by johanw ( 1001493 )

        The voters in the last election disagree.

        • The voters in the last election were undereducated white Evangelical Christian women in goddam Rust Belt [theguardian.com]

          Trump also appealed to many women who feared downward mobility and poverty, winning a majority of women without college degrees, as well as rural women. He denounced the trade deals that they felt had wrecked their economies, and vowed to create jobs by rebuilding America’s decaying infrastructure. Meanwhile, Clinton partied with her funders in the Hamptons. She represented an out-of-touch elite, and many women felt that deeply and resented her – or simply didn’t care about her campaign.

          The only "code" dey hab id ind der dose.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      What is the next generation of nurses, hairdressers, mechanics, carpenters, teachers, plumbers, electricians going to do with more computing they had to learn?
      Their later job is going to give them very unique, often expensive computer related hardware and software products they will learn with their trade or profession.
      If they have to know how to write code it will be very unique to that profession and often on closed hardware with very expensive and advanced complex software.
      Nations put decades into tea
    • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

      by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @09:06PM (#53809353) Journal

      I think everyone (or nearly everyone) should be taught a minimal amount of coding, not so that they can code, but so that they can appreciate what coding can do (and so they can decide whether they are interested in learning more.)

      Here is a parable.
      Lecturer was approached by Researcher. Researcher was working with DNA sequences and had received a large computer file with many thousands of DNA sequences. These sequences all had a few characters at the beginning and end which were artefacts of the amplification and sequencing process, and needed to be removed before the sequences could be used by the next stage in the process. This was the second such file Researcher had worked with - the previous time, Researcher had spent about a month editing the file in a text editor to remove the surplus characters. Now they dreaded having to do it again, and hoped Lecturer could provide a better way. Lecturer promptly solved the problem in under a minute with a one line Unix command.

      Had Researcher had an idea of what programming can do, they'd have sought this help when they received the first file, and saved a month of extreme drudgery. (Incidentally, this really happened, my current boss was Lecturer.)

      I present here (not for the first time) the Woodhams Hierarchy of Epistemological Categories:
      1) Stuff that you know
      2) Stuff that you know where to find out
      3) Stuff that you know that somebody knows
      3a) Stuff that you know that nobody knows (a category irrelevant to this discussion but important to scientists.)
      4) Stuff you know nothing about
      (Compare to the Rumsfeld Epistemological Categories.)

      In the parable, 'how to best modify these DNA sequences' was initially in category 4 for Researcher, but would have been category 3 if they'd ever done some simple programming. The difference between category 4 and category 3 cost them a month. The difference between category 3 and category 1 cost them perhaps 20 minutes - instead of writing the one-liner themselves, they had to find somebody who could write it for them. This pattern is typical - when considering shifts in categories (from 4 to 3, from 3 to 2, and from 2 to 1) the benefit of shift 4 to 3 is greatest, and the cost (i.e. acquiring the knowledge) is lowest.

      To be a functioning person, you need stuff in category 1, but people usually undervalue categories 2 and 3, which can cover very much more knowledge than you can fit in category 1.

      • by Gorobei ( 127755 )

        I present here (not for the first time) the Woodhams Hierarchy of Epistemological Categories:
        1) Stuff that you know
        2) Stuff that you know where to find out
        3) Stuff that you know that somebody knows
        3a) Stuff that you know that nobody knows (a category irrelevant to this discussion but important to scientists.)
        4) Stuff you know nothing about

        So, about the same as:

        1) I have drugs
        2) I know where to buy drugs
        3) I have a friend who can get me drugs
        3a) I have drugs, and my friends don't know I do
        4) I have no drugs, and have no idea how to score them

        • I think
          3) I know what drugs I want
          3a) Nobody makes the drugs I want any more

          "Dope gets you through times with no money better than money gets you through times with no dope." - FFFB

    • Although I'm a computer geek and love to build websites, do computer graphics, build 3 game maps using NetRadiant, run Linux game servers and mess around with scripts like Drupal I can't program my way out of a wet paper bag. I can do graphic design, fix anything on my car but when it came to programming I just can't learnt it at all. When I took German in high skool I was able to pick it up pretty quickly in one year, although French was a bit harder for some reason. Trying to learn JS, perl and PHP to whe

    • Coding is not for everyone and not everyone will gain even a modest benefit from learning coding. Furthermore this shit is going to be highly automated over the coming decade or two. We need to teach kids stuff to make them well rounded, not just a fucking outdated cog.

      Speaking of outdated cog, makes you wonder how many people really remember how to speak a foreign language, even after getting two years of it shoved down their throats back in high school.

      Not trying to take away from your point at all, merely highlighting the actual value of teaching any language to the masses.

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        The purpose of learning a foreign language in HS is not to become fluent. It's to expand ones thinking and understanding. As we know from 1984, language shapes the way we think, and even what we can think about. Exposure to other languages also brings exposure to other cultures and other perspectives.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @06:52PM (#53808867)

    Do companies and billionerds really think this "teach everyone to code" is going to produce a more capable workforce? What's their angle - drive wages down?

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @07:12PM (#53808961)

      Yes.

      The false equivalence I keep seeing on Slashdot is they think that this aimed to turn out more professional coders and they're scared someone is going to come after their niche CS jobs.

      I'm a mechanical engineer that can code. You can pat yourself on the back that your job is never going to be taken over by me, nor would I want it. However I do code 40 hours a week, what gives? I use coding to automate mechanical engineering work. At times it get used as a Maslow's hammer [wikipedia.org], but it gets the job done faster than sitting and doing it manually or throwing a hundred interns on a project.

      Latest party trick is to use CNNs to classify plots. 10 years ago I'd make a dozen plots and my boss, I and a few co-workers would study them in a meeting and go "aha, that plot means X". But with the amount of data we're collecting and the amount of plots we're making it'd take a full, tedious week of analyzing them. So I'm treating it as a picture and throwing a spare GPU at it. Inefficient? Probably. Not the ideal solution? Probably Not. Does it work? Yes. But it's fast and I can teach my boss and co-workers how to classify something a handful of times and let the machine do it forever beyond that.

      This initiative isn't to turn out more coders, it's to turn out more ____ that can code. Small Business Accountants are still doing voodoo with Excel to automate their jobs, just a tiny amount of Python would make them much, much more efficient and productive. This is across the board of professions. Just like years ago someone got the smart idea to teach students how to type even though companies were employing typists at that time to do that. Turns out it's much faster to just have a person type up what they want themselves than spend the time trying to get a typist to do it.

      And the jobs that require a full CS degree are still going to be there, they aren't going anywhere, you can stop freaking out every time we want to teach kids something new. I do expect to see "Python" along side "MS Word" when it comes to most job requirements in the next few decades.

      • And that's where the current crop of jobs are as well:

        Searching for dSpace/Python jobs around Detroit: https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=... [indeed.com]

        http://www.jobjuncture.com/job... [slashdot.org]">Here's one that pays well:

        Requires Python, C, C++, Ethernet UDP, and a whole host of other 'programming' even if the primary role of the job isn't a coder.

        And here's an embedded controls job [smartsearchonline.com] that requires knowledge of programming on top of the engineering.

        So to all those wondering where the jobs are, I question if you're 1) looking 2) h

        • In 30 years of embedded experience, I've found that I can teach myself most languages in under a day (and have never had a CS class (but have read a lot of books on the subject). I've formally, college level, studied four languages, but can't speak any of them (passably English).
        • I picked one at random. It requires 8 years of experience in that software field. How do I acquire that immediately so that I can apply for that job.

      • I doubt a "small business accountant" would benefit much from learning Python. I have a hard time imagining a good chunk of their time is spent doing things that Python could automate (but Excel can't). What, specifically, does Python provide to a small business accountant that Excel doesn't?
        • Pulling in data from more sources than Excel. Automating importing / cleaning up data from what ever format their supplier uses, interfacing with web APIs, automatic report generation, etc. With the critical mass of modules Python has these days you'd be re-inventing the wheel doing a lot of it.

          Plus VBA lacks a decent IDE and testing environment. It takes me 3-4 times as long to do something in VBA than it does to do in Matlab.

    • by geek ( 5680 )

      Do companies and billionerds really think this "teach everyone to code" is going to produce a more capable workforce? What's their angle - drive wages down?

      It's doubly confusing since all they want to do is outsource them once they've learned to code. It's fucking ridiculous.

      If Disney cared so fucking much why did they outsource an entire department of competent IT workers to India? It's not like Disney is hurting for cash.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        It's doubly confusing since all they want to do is outsource them once they've learned to code. It's fucking ridiculous.

        If Disney cared so fucking much why did they outsource an entire department of competent IT workers to India? It's not like Disney is hurting for cash.

        That was what immediately came to mind. Their attitude toward hiring Unisys as a way to skirt the H1B laws (ie, contracting to another company and letting that company, with no prior American workers, make the claims about availability in order to justify the foreign workers) seems to run exactly opposite to what they've now said.

        I'd like to see the H1B laws for IT work be changed to disallow the use of H1B for butts-in-seats, regardless of what abstraction layer results in paying the end-worker.

      • Do companies and billionerds really think this "teach everyone to code" is going to produce a more capable workforce? What's their angle - drive wages down?

        It's doubly confusing since all they want to do is outsource them once they've learned to code. It's fucking ridiculous.

        If Disney cared so fucking much why did they outsource an entire department of competent IT workers to India? It's not like Disney is hurting for cash.

        Maybe Disney want to make school even more boring so kids will crave more Disney produced entertainment at home?

        Heres a clue for the programmers on /. honestly although you might not believe it nor understand it, programming is boring for most people.

        Foreign languages open up a LOT more entertainment possibilities than programming; listening to music with vocals in other languages, literature and movies in other languages, being able to engage with other human beings in other languages. Even foreign languag

    • What's their angle - drive wages down?

      I expect that their angle is pragmatism. Given the way things seem to be going in the US foreigners are increasingly unlikely to travel there so you won't encounter people speaking foreign languages and the same restrictions will mean there will be a huge shortage of IT skills such as programming.

    • No,

      What you have to realise is that Disney has already created 'Hour of Code' activities which are really not much more than adverts for Disney franchises. In fact, incredibly effective adverts as you have to interact with them. Now they want those "adverts" to be a part of every students classwork all the time so encouraging all students to have to learn to code/ have to play with your adverts is incredibly powerful.

      I really believe Disney couldn't give a stuff about coding. This is just more greed and

    • What's their angle - drive wages down?

      Yes, exactly.

    • They think they can't find enough qualified applicants. Easy

      The truth is the CEO's have no clue what the director or jr VP 3 levels down did to cut costs to raise the share price. OUTSOURCED! If the CEO asks the jr VP of finance says well Mr. CEO we couldn't find enough qualified applicants to keep our systems up. We had no choice but to use WIPRO.

      SMoke is soo blown up asses at that level which many do not know what the reality is. This is why undercover boss was popular on TV. The CEO undercover will visit

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      I think it is just "this modern thing" they do not comprehend and hence must be the future. They might as well advise everybody to learn how to compose symphonic music, for the good it will people do. Sure, good coders will have good jobs for the foreseeable future, but bad coders will not even get a job now. School will never produce good coders, as school is about basic skills. Coding on the level required to be really useful is a very advanced skill. It can only be self-taught (yes, a good academic CS pr

  • replace math instead (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2017 @06:53PM (#53808877)

    Seriously, it's a brilliant idea to replace math with coding, because computer science is technically applied mathematics, and everyone already hates math, but everyone hopes to bullshit their way to a billion dollars as a coder.

  • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @06:55PM (#53808881)

    So, if you look at the foreign language requirement for what it is (an "expand your mind" requirement), then it is plainly obvious that coding achieves the same objective.

    Joel Spolsky,in his rant on Java Schools [joelonsoftware.com], sort of touches on this:

    Heck, in 1900, Latin and Greek were required subjects in college, not because they served any purpose, but because they were sort of considered an obvious requirement for educated people. In some sense my argument is no different that the argument made by the pro-Latin people (all four of them). âoe[Latin] trains your mind. Trains your memory. Unraveling a Latin sentence is an excellent exercise in thought, a real intellectual puzzle, and a good introduction to logical thinking,â writes Scott Barker. But I canâ(TM)t find a single university that requires Latin any more. Are pointers and recursion the Latin and Greek of Computer Science?

    Granted, he is arguing for CS students always having to learn fundamental CS concepts like pointers and recursion, but I think that it is not too much of a stretch to think that coding will eventually become the Latin and Greek of our culture. Everybody should have to learn a bit of it if they want to consider themselves well educated and well rounded, and a small number will choose to specialize in it as a field of endeavor.

    And if you are thinking to yourself, "Well, what's the point, they won't remember any of it?" Please go find any random middle aged person whose only exposure to foreign language was their 2 year requirement in high school and ask them how much Spanish, French, German, etc. they remember? Hint: their high school foreign language class didn't make them an expert in the foreign language, so would two years of programming in high school be seen as any less valuable from a macro-pedagogic perspective?

    • by shess ( 31691 )

      So, if you look at the foreign language requirement for what it is (an "expand your mind" requirement), then it is plainly obvious that coding achieves the same objective.

      Isn't that the entire point of school, though? So pretty much anything goes, as long as it's taught in the school system?

      Software engineering can substitute for a foreign language in much the same way that home economics can substitute for economics.

    • Our education system should not be strictly utilitarian. While I can see value in exposing everyone to code - or, perhaps, teaching some form of technical literacy - it shouldn't be in place of foreign language. If we're going to do that, it should be along side of the foreign language requirement.

      The point of learning foreign languages is, at least in part, to teach you about the world - to help you discover that not everyone is like you, and not everyone shares the same culture. Maybe the language itself

      • by aevan ( 903814 )
        Your confusing culture and language, they don't necessarily dovetail in the class. I have 6 years of French from various schools and not a drop of 'french' culture from it. It's been remarkably useless (already speak two other languages), and would been far better served with having the option instead for coding.

        At least here, the point of learning another language in school is to make Quebec be less whiny, somehow.
      • *Looks at state of current US education system* Well they certainly can't do any worse than the people presently in charge.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2017 @07:18PM (#53809007)

      Of the people who know Latin, only the idiots who didn't learn enough of it to read well ever say that one needs to learn Latin as an intellectual puzzle. The rest of us appreciate the ability to pick up and read literary (and scientific and historical) texts from medieval and early modern Europe (and dissertations up to the early twentieth century from some European universities) no matter what the nationality or native tongue of the author. The surviving Latin-language output of the sixteenth century alone is two or three orders of magnitude (yes, really) the size of all the literature surviving from the ancient world, and most of it was never translated into English. You don't learn Latin to learn a puzzle: you learn it as a key to unlocking vast libraries of literature that most people don't know ever existed. There's a long, eighteenth-century epic poem (the Rusticatio Mexicana) on the hardworking people of Mexico and their oppression by Europeans. There are treatises on state action against non-state actors (like Grotius' De iure piratarum) that still have an impact on international law and the controversial idea of treating terrorists as hostes humani generis. There are histories of the Americas, Africa, Asia, even the early Jesuit visits to China and Japan, all in Latin, and not translated into English. When you learn Latin well enough actually to read it, without puzzling over it or needing a dictionary, you open yourself up to being able to discover vast swaths of human intellect and history to which you have no access otherwise.

    • by geek ( 5680 )

      So does math....... coding does not expand a mind any more than math does.

      • So does math....... coding does not expand a mind any more than math does.

        I believe that a lot of math principles will sink in better, for certain types of students, if they can apply the math in code, vs. just a bunch of busy work assignments.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 )

      Your mind doesn't exist in one dimension. So anything that "expands your mind" isn't necessarily a suitable replacement for something else that "expands your mind".

      Greek and Latin are valuable because they give you access to the mind and thoughts of other people. The same for foreign languages. Programming languages don't do that, except in a very narrow domain.

      The failure of US language instruction is due to a stubborn unwillingness to change. We've known for fifty years or more that human language acq

    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @08:14PM (#53809195)
      I don't necessarily have an objection to some form of coding requirement. However...

      So, if you look at the foreign language requirement for what it is (an "expand your mind" requirement)

      "Expand your mind"? That's really vague. Just a few things foreign language requirements help with that coding doesn't:

      -- English grammar and usage. Many good writers and speakers have noted that they first really understand grammar and details of English usage when they study a foreign language. Now, of course it's possible to refine one's language use without formal grammar training, but the process of deconstructing a foreign language is often helpful to understand one's own.
      -- English etymology and vocabulary use. Particularly if one studies Latin-based language like Spanish, French, or Italian, one gains knowledge of Latinate roots, which are often helpful in figuring out Latin-based English words. Frequently in the first few years of language instruction, you'll learn a lot more English vocabulary through relationships with the other language. Germanic languages also are helpful in learning new English words, due to common older roots.
      -- Communication skills. A lot of students who just take a couple years of a language in high school or whatever don't really get a proficient speaking level, but that's largely due to lack of practice and subsequent failure to "keep up" the training. Nevertheless, for many students who do take the oral skills seriously, languages like Spanish can be incredibly helpful for communicating with customers/users and other job contacts in many professions. If you have an opportunity, doing something like Mandarin or Japanese can open yet other doors.
      -- As one learns another language, generally one learns about other cultures too. Which again is often an introspective exercise in learning about your own culture -- you don't realize your assumptions about the word often until you contrast them with someone else's. This can be a very eye-opening exercise for young people.

      None of this is an argument against coding. But there are more specific things language requirements do, aside from basic skills in that language or "expanding your mind" (whatever that means).

      I think that it is not too much of a stretch to think that coding will eventually become the Latin and Greek of our culture.

      Huh. I'm not sure even how to begin responding to this. The reason Latin and Greek were taught in schools commonly until the mid-20th century is because they not only served as a common communication system in many fields, were the basis of many modern languages, and were the most common languages of historical documents over a span of more than 2000 years, but also were the foundation of much of Western culture and political systems. There's still a vast amount of classical, medieval, and early modern literature unavailable in translation -- and when I saw "literature" I mean all documents, including scientific and technical advances, as well as cultural artifacts.

      While I'm not arguing for a return to Latin or Greek requirements, I don't think it's a coincidence that the U.S. government started wildly straying from the original restrictions on federal power in the early to mid 20th century as knowledge of Latin/Greek and related Roman/Greek history (and political science) decreased. Sure, it's possible to read about these things in English in translation, but the widespread use of Latin led to a promotion of related cultural knowledge (see above), including political and philosophical questions. The Founders of the U.S. all knew their history very well and designed our government in various ways to prevent recurrence of problems that happened in ancient societies. All of this is largely forgotten these days, at best a marginal sidenote to history courses in many public school curricula.

      And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Latin and Greek had even more benefits for learning about E

    • by bidule ( 173941 )

      Please go find any random middle aged person whose only exposure to foreign language was their 2 year requirement in high school and ask them how much Spanish, French, German, etc. they remember?

      First, they learned different cultures and improved their understanding of the world. You have to think in Spanish to speak Spanish properly.

      Second, they read more and learn new words. Maybe enough to know capitols are buildings, principals are people. Something programming will never solve.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've done the same twice basically.

    Ohio has a "State Honors Diploma" that requires 6 out of 7 criteria: 4 yrs Math, English, Science, 3yrs Social Studies, Foreign Language, 27 on the ACT (or some # I forget on SAT), 3.5+ GPA (there might be/have been 1 more criteria but either way you could only lose out on 1) ... And I got my state honors diploma by getting 27 on the ACT (and pissing off my '"guidance counselor" by proving her wrong and actually qualifying b/c she was a cunt... and pushed people to Foreign

  • by Lije Baley ( 88936 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @06:59PM (#53808907)

    They're not going to give them any jobs.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Disney that just outsourced their IT to foreign h1b contractors? That Disney?

    • Yeah I was about to type the same thing. But really not meaning to be funny but real.

      If Disney wanted to hire Americans they would so why bother since they do not give a crap? MY only conclusion is the CEO probably was spoon fed some lies about having to outsource so some jr. VP of finance or accounting jackass could get his bonus. The CEO probably really believed he had no IT department before and had to outsource as he is removed at that level.

      Or he did and this is a publicity stunt to make them look not

  • Nice idea, everyone should be taught the basics of programming; but, for most people, human languages are more important to be learned in depth.

  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @07:03PM (#53808927)
    Why does it have to be either/or? Why can't kids learn Spanish AND Python?
  • I studied foreign languages, Latin in High School, German in college. I also was stationed in Japan in the Navy and tried to learn Japanese (with much more success than I ever had with Latin or German.)

    I also learned how to program a computer. My first experience of that, Fortran on a PDP 8 in 1966, was pretty bad. But, after the Navy, I tried again and got pretty good at it. (Mostly programming in assembly and C.)

    What the two disciplines have in common is a basic sort of new kind of mental activity tha

  • by jader3rd ( 2222716 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @07:58PM (#53809149)
    Work coding into math courses, if not, out right replace some. There has to be a way to teach programming that allows for students to also pick up all of the concepts taught in algebra courses.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Work coding into math courses, if not, out right replace some. There has to be a way to teach programming that allows for students to also pick up all of the concepts taught in algebra courses.

      That sounds like an odd class to me, I think I'd struggle with learning new math concepts and new programming concepts at the same time. Maybe you could do paired lessons where you have one hour math theory, one hour implementing a tool using that math. A math formula would often be just a function though, you'd learn very little about structuring software (objects, attributes, functions, interfaces, properties), flow control (if/for/while etc.), GUIs, network, databases, validating input and error handling

  • Oh, yeah, nobody wants to pay for it. Christ, my kid's school didn't even have shop class. Too expensive. Not just fear of lawsuits (schools can avoid that with the right NDAs and a bit of training for the teach). It's bloody expensive to have a real shop class. Businesses would pay for that when we had manufacturing in the States and they wanted the kids to come out of high school ready to do it. But nowadays forget it. Nobody's gonna pay the taxes.
    • The problem is they do not want to pay for Obamacare and American wages either. Even if these kids could code Disney would only hire an Indian as they have shown outsourcing their whole IT department. Do not give me they couldn't find qualified applicants either since the workers had to train their counterparts who were not qualified.

      • if they have to. They want the jobs here in the States to benefit from the stability bought by our wealth and military. Now, if we can shut down the visa programs that bring rank and file programmers in then we'll talk. It's like I always say: bring back the jobs before us parents bring back our kids.
        • They had their own IT department. They trained their Indian counterparts because they were not qualified.

          Sure they want infrastructure like a military. So qualified workers were there. They wanted to save money and raise the share price and didn't care or see the value in IT to justify the expense. So it serves Disney no purpose unless the CEO had smoke blown up his ass to justify the cost accountant who got his bonus for saving money.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday February 05, 2017 @08:00PM (#53809161) Homepage Journal

    Would the elite in this country stand for it being done in the prestigious prep schools they send their offspring to? If not, it's no good for your kids either.

  • Comically applaud? Buddy there are currently 10 billion devices connected to the Internet, contrast that with a merger 500 million people who speak English. By 2020 it's estimated 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. I comically applaud you for wasting your time trying to master a 2nd way to communicate with people. You're ignoring the root problem... all people can't know all languages, so if effective communication is truly the goal then what you really need to do is kill off these second

  • It is laughable that people talk of it being an 'either/or' thing. In the modern world, people need a grasp of foreign languages, since people need to talk to people; people need a grasp of programming, so that computers are not so much 'magic black boxes with flashing lights'; and people need to grasp the languages of maths and science. Figuring out how to teach people, and get across why grokking these things is a good idea, is a research project nobody at the top of the education seems to want to take fu

    • It is laughable that people talk of it being an 'either/or' thing. In the modern world, people need a grasp of foreign languages, since people need to talk to people; people need a grasp of programming, so that computers are not so much 'magic black boxes with flashing lights'; and people need to grasp the languages of maths and science. Figuring out how to teach people, and get across why grokking these things is a good idea, is a research project nobody at the top of the education seems to want to take fully take on.

      Most people need to learn how their "magic black box" works about as much as they need to learn how their "vroom-vroom" engine works, which is why most people have no fucking desire to learn programming or auto repair. That's what they pay other people for.

      It's laughable that you think the average layman needs a grasp of programming when 1% of computer users hold that skill today, which doesn't seem to affect their ability to operate a "magic black box". We've been studying how to teach humans for a very

      • THe problem is 2fold.

        They want to hire Americans, but not at current wages. WIth greater supply is less demand. A kid out of college earns around 10 - 20/hr with 15/hr being average for a college grad. Ridiculous but reality. Kids today want $60,000 a year writing code out of school???! I think they do not like this want new programmers to live at home with their parents for 5 to 10 years until 30 making $15/hr coding ideally.

        This would raise the share prices and make IT more comeptitive with the other depa

  • Coding language will obsolete much faster than foreign language. I am not sure I want my children to learn stuff that will be utterly useless when they will be grown ups. Even coding techniques may not be on par with foreign languages on that front.
  • At least you wouldn't be wasting years conjugating verbs in ways only used in old literature.

  • by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @12:44AM (#53810057)
    I took Spanish in high school which allowed me to get an awesome job as a programmer in Miami in a Cuban company when I was 18. Somehow I see Florida as a place where Spanish should be mandatory from 1st grade for all kids. If you pretend like Spanish is a foreign language in Florida, you're an idiot.
  • I took coding instead of sports. In hindsight from decades later a bit of both may have been a better idea than one or the other. Learning another language was not a choice on the maths/science track, and neither was typing (women's work apparently).
  • Since when did major corporations decide what was good for school? Don't answer it was a rhet-or-ical question.

    I'm bilingual in French, know 'some' Japanese and have been a programmer most of my career. The one is not a substitute for the other and, also, learning foreign languages is to do with what Aristotle called flourishing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] enhanced human condition, ability to communicate with and enjoy other cultures. School and university is not just preparation for work, althoug
  • The same Disney that's replacing their IT staff with cheap foreign imports? Why would they be interested in this?

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