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ragingloli's avatar

Should high level programming be a mandatory class next to learning writing and reading in primary school and onwards? Your arguments please.

Asked by ragingloli (43952points) April 30th, 2009
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12 Answers

Les's avatar

No, because it is not a skill that everyone needs to have. The people who use it will learn it, but it isn’t equivalent to reading and writing.

theartfuldodger's avatar

My future children will be learning programming, but it will be at home. I believe it is an extension of math and teaches logic, but I do not believe it is for everyone. It is not as crucial to everyday life as reading and writing.

richardhenry's avatar

No way. It’s a specialised area that doesn’t interest everyone, and there’s no need to make programming one of those “OH GOD I HATE THIS SUBJECT” lessons.

mattbrowne's avatar

Definitely not. Young students should learn though how to use computers. Here’s an analogy: in the developed world almost every adult should know how to drive a car. But we only need a certain amount of people who know how to fix a car (mechanics) and people who know how to construct a car (engineers).

cwilbur's avatar

I think critical thinking and logical argument are far more important skills for the average student to have. To some extent, the rudiments of programming are useful for building analytical skills, but no more useful than the exercise in English composition class where the class instructs the teacher on how to make a peanutbutter sandwich and the teacher follows their instructions literally.

And hell, I think it would be good to make programming one of those “OH GOD I HATE THIS SUBJECT” areas. Anything that reduces the number of half-wits going into computer science and information technology because they think it’s an easy job with a fat paycheck is a good thing.

hug_of_war's avatar

Why? Lots of subjects teach critical thinking, so that’s not it. It’s not a skill most people need. I can use a computer just fine even if I’ve never coded a thing in my life. Also if we started learning programming in primary school, it would probably have a negative effect on the programming job market. Instead of needing a bachelor’s to get a job, you might almost certainly have to get a master’s or something.

theartfuldodger's avatar

@hug_of_war: The status quo needs to be broken in order for our society to progress technologically. I agree with the first part of your statement, but there is no reason why children should not be able to come out of high school able to program better than their father, simply because it might upset the job market.

That’s a horrible and socially stunting way to look at it. I understand that people’s jobs might be in jeopardy, but the society as a whole is more important than the individual. The individual can learn a new trade, or go back to school to become more updated. These aren’t the days of our forefathers, when a person had a trade for his lifetime. People change trades like they change vehicles.

aprilsimnel's avatar

It should certainly be an elective starting in middle school. Had there been such a class in my day, I’d’ve taken it. As it was, I learned some BASIC at summer school when I was 10–11, but I never kept up with it. I was one of those nerds who voluntarily went to summer school. Once regular school would start again in the fall, there were no ongoing classes to help maintain and expand my knowledge.

By the time I took DOS programming as an elective in college, it was all I could do to keep my grade at a BC. Had I had any classes in the intervening years, I think I would’ve done better. I didn’t even go on to C. I thought it would be too hard.

cwilbur's avatar

@theartfuldodger: I’d prefer that students come out of high school with a better understanding of critical thinking than their fathers—and with a better understanding of budgeting, credit cards, and compound interest. I’d also prefer if they understood logical argumentation and recent current events.

The problem is, learning to program at a high level takes years even for people who have the aptitude. What are you going to take out of the high school curriculum to allow for that? What benefits do you expect to see from teaching all students to program, in a day and age when computer programming really isn’t any more of a necessary skill than machine shop work?

ragingloli's avatar

@cwilbur it seems you don’t know what is meant by high level programming:

cwilbur's avatar

Um, ragingloli, in fact I do know what is meant by it, and apparently you don’t.

You don’t get to point me to Wikipedia because you asked about “high level programming” when what you meant was “programming in a high level language.”

And my questions still stand: what would you take out of the curriculum to make room for it, and what benefits do you see from it?

avalmez's avatar

@cwilbur i do agree with you on two points.

first, programming is not necessarily the best way to develop analytical and logical thinking. personally i think i became a better developer because first i learned to develop proofs in geometry and trigonometry classes. in fact, many things clicked into place after i took those classes.

second, it’s unfortunate that there are way too many untalented people in the programming business. this situation was of course driven by the huge demand for bodies which resulted in compromising requirements for entry and continued participation in the field. this trend has not yet reversed, imho

so to answer the question directly, an elective yes, requirement no.

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