Programming in Schools?

Keyboard

The New York Times recently published an article showing how a few big cities (e.g. New York, Chicago) are trying out Code.org‘s “Hour of Code.” According to the article, nine States have begun awarding computer science credit in the same manner as science and math.

It’s about time.

According to Code.org‘s fancy little graph, there will be 3.5 times as many programming jobs as students in 2020:

Programming Jobs

(Image courtesy of Code.org)

In all seriousness, extrapolating is bad. Mkay.

extrapolating is bad

(Image courtesy of XKCD)

But fear mongering aside, it seems that our education system is taking its sweet time catching up to the 21st century. I remember graduating from high school feeling neglected as far as engineering and programming went. I took one elective that sort of taught the basics of Visual Basic and the ins-and-outs of Microsoft Excel. Awesome. I certainly didn’t feel as prepared as my college cohorts who had several programming classes and even some intro to electronics under their belts come freshman year.

The New York Times article illustrates just one way our current education system is antiquated. Other countries (for example, China and India) are kicking our collective butts when it comes to churning out technologically-inclined students. Code.org is trying to help by promoting an open source curriculum of computer programming (specifically, all curriculum is under the Creative Commons License) that teachers can implement in their classrooms. Additionally, Code.org works with Computing in the Core to promote (dare I say lobby?) computer science as core curriculum to the government.

It’s great to see an organization that helps teach young students about technology and spreads that cause to schools. What I’d like to know is: Why do the schools and government seem so slow to adopt new curriculum? Will schools be able to catch up? Or is this the beginning of the end of our educational institutions?

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