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Why Don’t We Make Learning A Computer Language A Requirement In High School? by Brad Feld, LinkedIn

Stashed in: Education!, education, Learn to program.

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Would schools really be any better at teaching coding than they would be at teaching foreign language? The problem is, one learns ALL language best by doing, rather than studying. Theory to learn basic grammatical structure AFTER you already know how to speak.

"When I compare it to French 3, I wanted to learn conversation French. I probably would have enjoyed that. But the teacher, who was French, insisted on grinding us through endless grammar exercises. The movies were sort of conversational, but they obsessed over the different tenses, and we were tested endlessly on when to use tu and when to use vous, even in French 3.

I’m not a language instructor, nor do I have any interest in figuring out the best way to teach a language – computer or otherwise – but it seems to me that we are shifting into a different period where learning how to write software is just as important – and probably more so – to a high school student as learning to speak French, at least at a two year of course level where all you remember are a few swear words."

Also we need neutral voices advocating for this; or folks willing to roll up their sleeve and get their hands dirty. That is what MSFT is doing in Seattle -- sending engineers into classrooms as much as four days per WEEK to get folks excited about engineering, and coding. Similarly in my high school district, the Chinese 1.2, and 3 classes are taught by other high school students who are native Chinese speakers -- it's how the district gets around not having the budget for more foreign language teachers.

Time is money; therefore, the best things folks can do is put their time where their mouth is...


In my opinion, many people can't even learn algebra.

If you can't learn algebra, you can't learn to program.

You are absolutely right. Here's what a faculty member of mine has said on education in my state:

"Students are not being prepared for college in large swaths of our nation. By "college" I mean implicitly "society". They lack the language and math skills that you likely received in 9th grade: the pilot of a state-wide exam on Algebra I was given to 90,000 students and only 40% of them passed (the test was developed by state-wide Algebra I teachers). They also lack the skills to make informed voting decisions on darn near everything, being woefully underinformed on history, government, environmental science etc. Their teachers are dealing with way too much in the classroom (pick your favorite urban blight legend and add parental pressure), and parents are either absent, or working 3 jobs or inappropriately pushy. As a result, few gifted teachers want to teach in those schools, and we've made a tacit agreement that kids will be passed along and along and along. They come to college unable to handle basic arithmetic or sentence-writing, and then pay for 2 years of general education courses where they earn mediocre grades and don't amass enough credits to be in good academic standing so they drop out and are understandably bitter and angry. "

The computer language learning sites are most likely the key. They need to be brought into schools for students doing the work.

I'm bullish on Codecademy long-term; their team is really, really good.

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