Programming and Education

To generate some discussion around Computer Science Education Week, Marketplace has asked their Facebook followers (alongside their podcast): “Do you think that kids should be taught computer programming in school as a fundamental, alongside reading, writing, math, and science?”

Absolutely!

Beyond those of us that program every day (namely, software developers), understanding the fundamentals of computer programming has become necessity for any field that observes trends or models data. At a minimum, understanding how to build a presentable webpage is a good skill to have for both the sciences and the arts.

My first programming class was an after-school nightmare on an Apple IIGS. I was in elementary school, somewhere between the age of 7 and 9, and stayed after school for what I thought was an opportunity to draw and play games on the school’s small handful of computers. Little did I know, a few of us had gathered to be mentored by a high-school student who would show us how to input data into a computer. By the end, we had learned how to program the computer to ask our name, and upon entering it, have it reply back in terminal-green type, “Hello, Ryan”. With our hands held, we had written our first command-line computer programs, and had absolutely no idea what we were doing.

Without a doubt, the few hours I spent during this extra-curricular “course” planted a seed somewhere in me that made me choose computer engineering over another engineering field. Thank you, Fawn Area Elementary School.