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Opinion: Should Schools Mandate Computer-Coding Classes?

Opinion: Should Schools Mandate Computer-Coding Classes?

Finding fifth graders, highschoolers and even Kindergarteners coding is becoming a more common sight in schools today. While many schools introduce coding through afterschool programs and clubs, others are considering mandating computer coding classes. 

In Chicago and Los Angeles, public officials are expanding and requiring computer science classes throughout all high schools, said an article by writer Fawn Johnson on NationalJournal.com. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Chicago Public Schools will "include an introductory computer-science class in every high school."

"These classes are supposed to be in place by the end of next year," Johnson said. "Over the next three years, the district also is expected to implement a K-8 computer-science pathway for younger students. Earlier this month, Emanuel told techies at the Internet World of Things Forum that Chicago's high school students will soon be required to take a computer class in order to graduate."

In Los Angeles, according to the Johnson, "school officials have rolled out a similar three-year program to expand computer science in public high schools. As it turns out, these two cities are working from the same playbook advocated by a nonprofit organization Code.org, bankrolled by tech giants like Microsoft and Google."

Johnson said there are a lot of "good reasons for treating computer science as a core subject in high schools."

"Computers are everywhere. Not understanding the basics of how they work is like not knowing how to change a tire. [Confession: I don't know how to change a tire,]" she said. Johnson said knowledge of computers also helps one in the job market.

"Techies believe that it's pure common sense to incorporate the language of computers into schools, if only to allow students to keep up with their industry," she said. "They say it's the tech economy, after all, that is changing how the entire world behaves. That's a compelling argument, but it misses a few key questions."

One of the questions Johnson asks is "what do the students think they are getting from these courses?"

"Do they expect to go to Silicon Valley and find a job?" she asked. "Not everyone wants to grow up to be a computer programmer, which means that in Chicago, a sizable chunk of students who will be required to learn computer code may also need to understand why they should care. Do teachers have an answer?"

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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