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Published 5 years ago by PrismDragon with 4 Comments

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  • SuperCyan

    Why make programming mandatory? Programming has little use outside of, well, programming. Sure, it's a good thing to offer programming, as most schools lack even basic computer science courses (my school started their last year), but it shouldn't be required. Society's lack of what the difference between a method and a function, or the size of a double and and int, isn't the problem we have - it's all the other aspects of computers that are never taught.

    The reason credit card numbers are stolen, or why people have their computers locked down by ransomware, isn't because of a lack of computer science classes, it's because we lack computer common sense classes. Don't show kids sorting algorithms, show them not to click on ads (or just adblock). Show them how to remove a virus. Show them how to browse the internet safely - pointing out tools to use and things to keep away from. Show them basic troubleshooting strategies, and how to use Google effectively.

    Every kid doesn't need to be walking out of school with JAVA certification or whatever, they need to be leaving with an understanding of how computers work, and how to use them safely.

    However, schools should at least have a CS class available, but not mandatory.

    • fractal

      Programming has a lot of uses outside of programming. It is 21st century mathematics, without forgetting mathematics. There are tons of uses outside of programming. In a former work, we laughed at a secretary (after we told her that we could do it easily in 30 minutes) that spent 3 days setting an excel sheet (bartender ledger) on who to send Christmas greetings according to a set of parameters, something that could be put out of the database with a simple script in less than half an hour, while the CEO of the company congratulated the tough job of said assistant. Lots of people are getting obsolete at their jobs because someone with knowledge of programming can write a script for something that that person was hired to do full time. Just because you don't find a use for programming, doesn't mean there isn't anything or someone cannot do it. Almost any job that is repetitive can be programmed.

      Now, what you are suggesting is not outside of the scope of programming, is like teaching addition and subtraction and afterwards multiplication.

      • SuperCyan

        I understand the benefits that programming brings, but the article seemed to equate digital literacy to programming, and that's what I didn't really like.

        I think before we should make programming mandatory, we should be teaching kids how to browse the internet safely and give them a bit of knowledge about how more of the bigger things work (I've had classmates not understand the difference between the network drive and C: drive) first. The first thing we should focus on is getting those classes created and revamping our current digital literacy classes. The one at my high school is Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and some typing exercises. I have no clue how using an office suite is considered "digital literacy." It's like making the test to get your driver's license driving from one side of a parking lot to the other, without turning. That's one thing you can do, but there's so many other things you need to learn to drive. The current classes need to cut Power Point and Excel time in exchange for things that actually matter in life.

        Like you said, programming is 21st century mathematics. Personally, I think it should be a math class, either as a higher level class on the level of calculus, or integrated into low-level algebra as a means of showing how to follow concrete instructions and how to process that kind of information. I agree with you in the fact that it's important for most people to at least have a basic understanding of, but it's not digital literacy - which should have a different scope than it already has.

        • fractal

          I get your point and fully agree, but it's much easier to teach kids excel and powerpoint than programming. I am not defending it, it's just the way things are and public education targets the minimum-common denominator. Now I do prefer to have mandatory programming and have a 25% of kids having a grasp of what is it than none of them until later in their learning career or never, which is probably what is happening right now with mathematics (https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014024rev.pdf). Also, you are going to be hard pressed to find teachers literate in digital literacy, and I am afraid that it's only going to get worse because of the widespread use of mobile platforms, which in my opinion dummyfies the user.

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