What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

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Poll: What do you think of this high school coding initiative? (13 member(s) have cast votes)

Should programming be a high school course for everyone?

  1. Yes (9 votes [69.23%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 69.23%

  2. No (4 votes [30.77%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 30.77%

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#1 AVReidy  Icon User is offline

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What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 26 February 2013 - 08:20 PM

As a high school student who isn't lucky enough to attend a school that offers any programming classes, you'd think I would be all-for such an initiative. But, as a senior and self-taught programmer, I really don't know what to think. Part of me would be upset if every public school started to offer (or require) such classes since I dedicated so much of my free time to learning to program on my own, but another part of me sees that it wouldn't really change much.

It's not like all of our jobs will disappear because of it. As I see it, smart, creative, passionate engineers and developers will always stand out, even if there's a little more competition. (And the real competition will probably only come from worthy competitors, anyway, although more "synthetically-taught" or introduced.) I think most people who are destined to go into software development will be curious enough to find out about the field on their own, anyway, and for the few smart would-be coders who would otherwise (without a political push for coding) not really get into the field, I think this is a great opportunity to at least give the select few (who are actually passionate about learning) a better chance of finding their passion and talent.

I think the proponents like Code.org are slightly misguided with their idea that introducing kids to code in high school will significantly fix the inadequate supply of programmers: If everyone starts coding, you need only be worried if you sell your skills as a WordPress installer "custom website developer w/ PHP HTML CSS MySQL HIRE ME NAO I HAZ TEH CODEZ" ... (not to offend anyone). I imagine that most high school CS teachers -- even those who teach AP -- would probably not be the best programmers to learn from.

Anyway, that's my opinion -- the perspective of a high school student on the issue. What do you all think? Countless people, including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are in favor of the initiative.

This post has been edited by AVReidy: 26 February 2013 - 08:23 PM


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#2 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:08 AM

*
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In the 1980's programming was a course in my high school.
B.A.S.I.C. on Radio Shack TRS-80's.

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Part of me would be upset if every public school started to offer (or require) such classes since I dedicated so much of my free time to learning to program on my own,

Get past the jealousy and envy. Every generation has it easier than the one before.

Should I be upset that you have the internet and this immediate response to questions from seasoned experts, when it didn't exist when I was your age? I had to just keep hammer at issues until I solved them on my own or spend time at the library trying to find a book on the subject.

Should I be upset that you can just plug in to the internet on a broadband connection, just because I had a 56k baud accustic coupled modem to dial into a BBS? (That's where you would dial up the phone number of one server, then put the handset of the desktop phone into a modem)
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Should I be upset that you can buy a laptop when my first computer was a Heathkit that I put together with a soldiering iron?
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Get over it and get past it. Don't worry about these people as competitors. Don't be jealous if they get better computers than you had. In reality all these same kids probably wind up in university courses anyway and still can't code their way out of a wet paper bag. That's why they wind up here asking "gimme teh codez"

It doesn't matter how many students take the course. There are still only a given number that are *talented* at it. For every kid that takes the course there could be 5 that learn they don't like it and its not easy and start looking in another direction earlier, that otherwise may have paid for college courses.

More coding at an earlier age will probably just filter out people while it is still at free public school level. After all every kid in auto shop doesn't become a mechanic, everyone in wood shop doesn't become a carpenter. I took shorthand in high-school but didn't become a secretary (but I had great notes in other classes to study from).

This post has been edited by tlhIn`toq: 27 February 2013 - 08:11 AM

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#3 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:35 AM

Trash 80s? You poor thing! We had Apple IIs ( or ][s if that doesn't give the parser a fit .) We did BASIC, but I got into the "special" advanced class that did Pascal. Amber screens, when Turbo Pascal was new.

I've taught children, and I mean kids that couldn't even spell yet, Terrapin Logo. I wonder sometimes if any went on...

This is not a new idea. From over a decade ago:

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We ... believe that the study of program design deserves the same central role in general education as mathematics and English. Or, put more succinctly, everyone should learn how to design programs.

On one hand, program design teaches the same analytical skills as mathematics. But, unlike mathematics, working with programs is an active approach to learning. Interacting with software provides immediate feedback and thus leads to exploration, experimentation, and self-evaluation.

-- How to Design Programs: An Introduction to Computing and Programming
-- http://www.htdp.org/...ulum-Z-H-2.html

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#4 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:51 AM

I still miss my portable (okay, luggable) Commodore SX-64 with its tiny CRT monitor. But I did recently acquire an emulator and tons of games for it. I really should install that one day. I loved the Apache sim and the first Aliens game where you had to fly the drop ship to the planet.
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#5 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:19 AM

For the jealousy part of your statement. tlhIn'toq covered it rather well and I'm not going to just rehash what he said. Get over it.

View PostAVReidy, on 26 February 2013 - 10:20 PM, said:

I think the proponents like Code.org are slightly misguided with their idea that introducing kids to code in high school will significantly fix the inadequate supply of programmers: If everyone starts coding, you need only be worried if you sell your skills as a WordPress installer "custom website developer w/ PHP HTML CSS MySQL HIRE ME NAO I HAZ TEH CODEZ" ... (not to offend anyone). I imagine that most high school CS teachers -- even those who teach AP -- would probably not be the best programmers to learn from.


Was the first introductory book you read on the topic of programming turning you into the greatest programmer in the world? I doubt no.

Did it introduce you to the field and give you the first tools needed to then move onto bigger and more difficult things to learn. I certainly bet so.

A high school level class of any sort isn't going to be expert level; may it be auto shop, wood shop, physics, etc. They're introductory courses, there to introduce students to the field, see who may be interested or have skill.

When I was in school we didn't have programming classes at all. And I didn't have a computer at home most of my life as we couldn't afford one, and when we did I got very limited access to it as it was a shared computer. It wasn't until I was graduated from high school, and already 2 years into college to become a math teacher, that I got a computer of my own. It wasn't until then that my friends wanted to write videogames and told me I should learn to program due to my existing math skills. FINALLY after years of ignorance about computer programming did I learn that I LOVE PROGRAMMING. I had never felt so satisfied in my work then I did when I started programming.

And it was purely chance that I was introduced to it.

I wish I got introduced to it in high school.
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#6 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:26 AM

My Mac Plus was portable... at least, it had a handle and was all in one piece. Well, except for the keyboard and the mouse. Okay, not very portable.


On topic: Should everyone study programming? Yes, everyone should have the opportunity to study programming - but it should be serious programming, not drag-and-click nonsense, and it would have to be a multi-year course of study. No, it should not be another required snooze-through course for bored kids. A one year course that teaches you how to turn on Visual Studio and make a frame with a picture in it? That would be a waste of time for everyone. But a kid who's interested should be able to take programming classes all the way through high school if they want to - and not some online bullshit, which is simply useless, but actually learning from someone who knows enough to teach them the basics and can steer them to more advanced material if needed. No high school teacher can know enough to teach competently in all of the areas that a kid might be interested in pursuing, because no human being can do that, but there are many people who can monitor an independent study for someone who's earned it, and that should be available. But of course, that should also be available for math and for physics.
Kids are smart, and high school should assume that they're smart and want to get smarter. I know that's not likely to actually happen, but that's how programming in high school gets to be a good idea. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Andraka)

Could this actually happen? Well, it's certainly plausible, but you'd have to be a lot more optimistic than I am to expect the pieces to fall in place. I think we, collectively, are too stupid to do something this smart. I'd love to be proved wrong on this.
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#7 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:46 AM

I'm a pessimist like jon.kiparsky is in the sense that I don't think school's would implement it correctly at all. And it would get implemented in as a simple 1 year intro course at first (maybe after some time more courses would become available). I don't just assume that but still dream of a better course... I just assume and expect the shit course.

But even then... a shit intro course is a good idea in my book. Introduce kids to the shit!

There was all sorts of intro courses in my high school (just not programming). Shit we had architecture... freaking ARCHITECTURE (and I took it). It was great, I learned some cool stuff from it, and I also learned that I didn't want to be an architect (I really wanted to be one at the time, in a "I wanna be an archaeologist" kind of way... I wanted to be am archaeologist as well). It certainly wouldn't hurt.

Yeah, there'll be lazy kids taking the class to just skim by. But those kids will always exist, and if it isn't programming, it'll be art or shop they take. But we don't remove those classes just because some lazy shits took the class... the art fag still loves and utilizes art class.



Well except in Florida. We want to eradicate all art courses. From drama and debate to painting and photography. They wanna put the money into sports programs.

I've gotten into several arguments on that. You know what I've been told on more than one occasion? "Well what about kids who might go off to join the NFL or something!? They need to be introduced to football in school!"

Yes, cause so many kids will leave high school to become pro football players. But NONE of them will be photographers, thespians, writers, graphic designers, or any of those other art oriented fields. Cause there's like no jobs in those fields out there.
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#8 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:15 AM

View Postlordofduct, on 27 February 2013 - 10:46 AM, said:

Shit we had architecture... freaking ARCHITECTURE (and I took it). It was great, I learned some cool stuff from it,


Ditto. We had a lot of 1/2 semester into courses as part of the science track. Everything with -ology and -ography. Oceonography, geology, cartography, even aviation ground school. All as intro courses so kids would get exposed to as much as the world had to offer that the school could arrange. And no this was not some richie school. Its was a public high school in the heart of Illinois farm country.
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#9 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:30 AM

I had similar intro classes in psychology and economics in high school - as electives, great. Let kids get a taste of what the field offers, no problem there.
What I think would be a total fail would be a required "intro" course - give people the opportunity, but don't try to cram algorithmic thinking into someone's head until they know they want it there. I mean, we force kids to take math, but we don't ask them to understand math in a one-year course. If you're going to force it, start them on it from grade one, day one, and just make them learn it and learn it. And then you'll have an American public who understands programming as well as they understand math today. :)
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#10 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:01 AM

In reality however, most schools have been loosing funding year after year. Todays schools are not as well funded or equipped as they were when we went to school in the 70's & 80's. That's just fact. They don't have funding for the basics, are cutting music/band and other
arts.

The only way computing programs can stay in school is if they are privately funded by companies such as Apple and Microsoft have done for years. Even then the donation of software and hardware doesn't pay for teachers etc.
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#11 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:10 AM

Yeah, that's so the truth.

And it also has problems.

I went to school in the 90's, and most of our school stuff was funded by Pepsi. We had computers and TVs in our class rooms! We also had Pepsi machines on either side of every wing, served Taco Bell and Papa John's in our cafeteria (our school had 12 lunch lines, only 1 served the school hot lunch, the other 11 sold Taco Bell and Papa John's), and we were pressured to buy pops to keep the funding rolling into the school with morning announcements reminding us how our money spent on those products are what bring us our TVs and computers.

And yet we didn't have a programming class.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 27 February 2013 - 11:12 AM

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#12 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:21 AM

Wow. We only had the school hot lunch. No outside food vendors. But it was open campus. Many times we'd order pizza to be delivered to our friend's house, that lived right across the street. I had my license as a junior so we sometimes just drove someplace for fast take out.
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#13 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:37 AM

We didn't have it up in New England. It was something I was first introduced to when moving down here to Florida. It was just another one of those weird things we do down here (and far from the weirdest)...

And we couldn't leave school campus for anything, you would be arrested and spend the day in jail. Then spend the next 3 days in "Restricted Environment" where you weren't allowed to do your class work but instead had to copy shit out of a book to paper and then throw it out at the end of the day.

Weeeeeeeee...
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#14 AVReidy  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 03:02 PM

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Get past the jealousy and envy. Every generation has it easier than the one before.

Should I be upset that you have the internet and this immediate response to questions from seasoned experts, when it didn't exist when I was your age? I had to just keep hammer at issues until I solved them on my own or spend time at the library trying to find a book on the subject.

Great point. I admit: jealousy is the first thing that comes to my mind -- it's a gut instinct for me to protect my interests, you know? Maybe it's just me, but ever since I was young I've been protective of the things I know lots about. I had a childhood friend who was obsessed with cars, and I was obsessed with airplanes, and I was so insecure that I was fearful that he would "learn more about them" if I shared how cool (I thought) they are.

And the role of the Web is important here because I can attest that it offers more than enough information for an aspiring programmer to train himself pretty well, which is why I think coding courses would be a waste of money. I think it would be better to show everyone in math class a video of the basics of programming and let the interested kids run with it using web tutorials if they so desire. When I look past my more primal jealous instinct, I see that it's really important to at least introduce people to programming so the people who enjoy it can learn more.

My school would probably be the last in the country to offer CS classes -- I was once suspended for installing eclipse on a school PC. I think the principal thought I was attempting to hack something. Good times. What's really screwed up is that our school gives every student a laptop (my public school district was actually an early adopter with this -- we had Steve Jobs come and speak to the directors when every student was given a Mac) but the Dells we have are so irrevocably locked up that I had to physically tamper with the hardware to install Linux. It's just sad that despite the push for "technology" at schools to aid learning, coding is discouraged and even punished out of pure ignorance. It's like being punished for doing useful math.

This post has been edited by AVReidy: 27 February 2013 - 03:02 PM

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#15 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: What do you think of this high school coding initiative?

Posted 27 February 2013 - 03:10 PM

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I was once suspended for installing eclipse on a school PC. I think the principal thought I was attempting to hack something.
...
but the Dells we have are so irrevocably locked up that I had to physically tamper with the hardware to install Linux. It's just sad that despite the push for "technology" at schools to aid learning, coding is discouraged and even punished out of pure ignorance. It's like being punished for doing useful math.

... or you know the physical tampering of school property. Typically an inschool or suspension worthy event.
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