A Question For the Advocates of Teaching Kids to Code

Over the last couple of weeks, there has been some chatter around the internet about teaching kids to code. In the U.S., Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is not only pushing this initiative, he’s teaching (or learning with) his kids how to code. Coding is supposed to be very important, up there with math or reading. We really need to know how students are doing, and if teachers are teaching the material well, right?

Obviously, there is one obvious outcome: high-stakes testing to determine if kids are learning to code, amirite?

Such a stinker, we are….

This entry was posted in Education. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Question For the Advocates of Teaching Kids to Code

  1. Joe Shelby says:

    well, i won’t say much for the slippery slope of “teaching something to kids === another thing on a standardized test”, but there is something to be gained for at least introducing kids to coding and seeing what sticks.

    Software, even learning BASIC at age 9 (when I first started, in 1979, on a Commodore PET), does have 2 advantages. 1) the feedback is immediate (if it doesn’t work, you’ll know), and 2) the feedback is *objective*. There’s no judgement, there’s no opinions (code quality can come later), there’s no conspiracy, there’s no emotional attachment from anybody but the coder. The teacher can say it didn’t work, and that’s ALL they can say as a matter of fact (again, quality of code is an opinion, better learned and developed later one after one gets it to work at all).

    This is the reason why so many of us geeks got into this in the first place back in the 6502 and S-100 era. It is a very attractive ‘world’ to be in when contrasted with the endless array of red marks that a written paper is returned with, all based on someone’s *opinion* that you might disagree with but have no say in changing.

    After that, you can show them how their algorithms are ‘algebra’ all along and they have no excuse for failing their next Alg2 test on quadratic equations. 🙂

  2. Once I got over the dread of “not another test”, I realized that coding is like reading/writing — you start by testing general comprehension and syntax, and then as the student matures you test how they can apply these skills. Given our data-rich society, I’m going to guess that the latter can be assessed via data analysis/mining of ‘real life’ data.

  3. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

    The best test for coding proficiency: Hack into the school computer and give yourself an A on this course.

Comments are closed.