Computer coding instruction is growing at Internet speeds. Since December, 20,000 teachers have introduced coding lessons, according to Code.org, a group backed by the tech industry that offers free curriculums. In addition, some 30 school districts, including New York City and Chicago, have agreed to add coding classes. And policy makers in nine states have begun awarding the same credits for computer science classes that they do for basic math and science courses, rather than treating them as electives. (New York Times)
Learn more about Code.org and the new curriculum of code.
- Read through the New York Times article and “Coded for Success,” our own article on Code.org. What is computer coding?
- According to our glossary, coding is the study and process of writing and texts (codes) in programming language.
- Coding can be as simple as making words bold or italic, or as complex as artificial intelligence.
- Watch the video above, or read through the NYT article to learn about support for organizations such as Code.org, Scratch, and MV Gate. Why are teachers and other education advocates supporting greater coding curricula?
- Many teachers, elected officials, and business leaders stress the near-universal use of computers, mobile devices, and apps across a broad spectrum of careers. “There’s a big demand for these skills in both the tech sector and across all sectors,” says a New York City school official in the NYT article.
- One of the tech executives quoted in our article “Coded for Success”—Eric Schmidt of Google—also calls attention to the technological and economic growth of the developing world, and the opportunities that will be available as those nations develop strong tech sectors. “For most people on Earth,” he says “the digital revolution hasn’t even started yet. Within the next 10 years, all that will change.”
- Other countries are integrating coding into curricula from kindergarten through high school. Elected officials and business leaders say the U.S. needs to encourage coding in order to stay competitive in the global economy.
- What are some criticisms about greater coding curricula?
- Although supporters say “there is a big demand for these skills in both the tech sector and across all sectors,” the tech sector is dominating the conversation about the value of coding. Companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter are contributing enormous amounts of money and talent to coding curriculums (through organizations such as Code.org and directly through individual schools), but within that advocacy are enormous and uncritical promotions for the companies themselves.
- As the NYT article says, there is also absolutely no evidence that learning code will result in lucrative jobs or encourage greater critical and logical thinking. According to the Atlantic, “real wages in many—but not all—science and engineering occupations have been flat or slow-growing, and unemployment as high or higher than in many comparably-skilled occupations.”
- Is there a coding or computer programming class in your school? Do you think coding should be taught as an elective, an alternative to traditional math or science classes, or a required subject on its own? Why?
- Try some basic coding yourself. Visit these websites to enter some codes and see the results: Code Academy, Code HS, Code.org, or Scratch.
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