Talking tech since 2003

About a week ago, Kentucky’s State Senate passed a bill that would allow public high school students to take computer programming classes in order to fulfill their foreign language requirement. According to an article in the Kentucky Courier-Journal, the vote passed with 28 votes to eight votes against, giving students the opportunity to have a head start in one of the most vital fields in the 21st century.

It’s no secret that knowing how to code gives you a leg up in life. The fact is that making programs and smartphone apps is becoming a more and more stable and lucrative career, but the skills required to excel as a coder are hard to come by unless you’re interested at a young age.

That’s why Kentucky’s new law is so revolutionary: it gives students more options to pursue an important field without radically altering the state’s curriculum. Having worked in education for a long time, I can say with certainty that the morass of bureaucracy and red tape is endless, and can often stand in the way of students actually learning valuable skills. Kentucky’s solution side-steps the problems that would come with inserting programing as a mandatory education requirement. Students don’t have to bend over backwards to learn coding and fulfill graduation requirements, and Kentucky doesn’t have to spend a lot of time or money rewriting its curriculum.

It’s not a perfect solution, of course: foreign language classes take the hit from bringing computer programing into the mix, both in terms of how many students will enroll and in terms of their perceived importance to a student’s life. Learning to code and learning to speak Chinese or Spanish are two very, very different kinds of skills (even if they both have their foundations in syntax and logic-systems). Foreign language education brings important lessons about history and culture, and can help make people understand their roles in a global society. Coding is good for making money by making an app with birds in it or whatever.

Both are valuable, and in a perfect world, they would both be requirements. But in reality, there’s only so many resources to go around. And in a changing economy and an increasingly digital world, it’s ultimately good to provide more opportunities for the coders of tomorrow.

[Image via Western Kentucky University Comp-Sci Dept.]


Comments

Sign in or become a BestTechie member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.

Subscribe to BestTechie Plus

You've successfully subscribed to BestTechie
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Great! You've successfully signed up.
Your link has expired
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.