Question: After reading the articles, do you believe that coding is the new literacy? Should everyone be exposed or required to take a computer science or coding class?
With the rapid rise of technology in America, businesses have become increasingly dependent on coders to help expand their company, the only problem is there seems to be a short supply of capable coders. The main reason for this is fairly simple, most students are not exposed to coding before college, and therefore do not have an interest in it. Additional factors include the perception that coding is reserved for super-geniuses like Zuckerberg and Musk, and that a typical high school student isn’t smart enough to learn coding. These are issues that need to be addressed if America is going to continue to be a hub for tech innovation, and many people from politicians to CEO’s are committed to fixing this problem. On the political side, both Obama and Trump introduced legislation aimed at boosting coding literacy in the public school system. Additionally, private organizations such as CS4All have made similar pushes to get more children coding at a younger age. Those who support such efforts argue that computer literacy is a necessary part of today’s world, and even if you don’t use your coding knowledge to land a job at Google, there are still innumerable applications of coding knowledge in almost any job field. Additionally, learning to code teaches children dynamic problem solving, and being able to work through problems using a different approach than the step-by-step solutions they may be taught in a traditional math or science class. However, just like everything else in this class, this problem does not have a clear answer. Opponents of coding programs like CS4All argue that introducing computer science into middle schools is easier said than done, as the people who would know enough about coding to teach a class on it would rather take a coding job than a public teaching job. Additionally, considering how fast the tech landscape changes, it would be difficult to keep curriculum up to date with current trends in the software community, risking teaching students outdated practices/languages.
In my opinion, every K-12 student should be exposed to computer science at least once in their high school careers. I think that the more software-focused concepts, such as programming should certainly be offered to K-12 students everywhere because it gives students with interest a chance to try out coding at a young age instead of waiting until college. However, I think computer literacy and computational thinking are applicable to pretty much any job field, and I think every K-12 student should go through at least one class that focuses on these broad concepts without getting into the nitty gritty of actual coding. If schools have difficulty fitting in a required CS class, I would suggest removing one elective slot for each student in high school (my school gave students multiple elective opportunities each year, so this shouldn’t be difficult) and replacing it with a required class to teach students the basics of computer literacy and computational thinking.
As far as programming aptitude, I am a firm believer that anyone can learn anything if they dedicate enough time to it and receive the proper support, and coding is no different. Most people tend to either give up on something they are not good at too quickly, or do not have good enough teachers to facilitate proper learning. If the student does posses dedication, interest, and the necessary support, they should be able to become successful coders regardless of innate ability. As far as the question of should everyone learn to program, I think the answer is no. While I agree that compute literacy and computational thinking are applicable in most fields, I do not think that students should be forced to learn a language that very well may be outdated in 5 years. If they are interested in pursuing a tech degree, that’s great and they should have the opportunity to take coding classes and see if its the right fit for them, but to force every student to learn a programming language seems like it would be a waste of time for a lot of students, and a waste of money for public schools.