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(IT World)   Proposed federal legislation would encourage states to teach computer science to all students. Proponents say it would help us compete with smarter countries; opponents say it would get us wedgied by dumber countries   (itworld.com) divider line 45
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449 clicks; posted to Geek » on 20 Dec 2012 at 9:58 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-20 10:01:53 AM
It wouldn't be unreasonable to have a class where one semester was password security, how to avoid phishing, security protocols, how determine your laptop really doesn't need to be replaced but rather is just needs more RAM (and how to put said RAM in it), etc. Then you could have a heavily suggested elective that taught one semester worth of python or something.

At my kid's school, they still have shop class but one of the projects is using the Parrot Drone SDK to program the drone to do other things. Along with the basics of "This is how you fix your leaking faucet".

/I still can't believe schools don't teach people how to change oil and air filters in cars
 
2012-12-20 10:11:45 AM
My high school had a class called "Business Systems and Technology" that just taught computer basics, how to do spreadsheets, use the internet, and so on. I think a version of that would be ideal, with just a little bit of CS, maybe in the form of basic logic or just playing with mindstorm or something.

Full on CS courses for the average student would be a waste of time. Most people are just too damn stupid, and it's not really the most useful of skills. Maybe they could roll CS into practical math courses? That would be cool.
 
2012-12-20 10:12:34 AM

ha-ha-guy: /I still can't believe schools don't teach people how to change oil and air filters in cars


Hell you could make a whole semester about how to change the oil filter in one of these..

marinasleeps.files.wordpress.com

/hot
 
2012-12-20 10:22:52 AM
what dumber countries?
 
2012-12-20 10:26:34 AM

ModernLuddite: My high school had a class called "Business Systems and Technology" that just taught computer basics, how to do spreadsheets, use the internet, and so on. I think a version of that would be ideal, with just a little bit of CS, maybe in the form of basic logic or just playing with mindstorm or something.

Full on CS courses for the average student would be a waste of time. Most people are just too damn stupid, and it's not really the most useful of skills. Maybe they could roll CS into practical math courses? That would be cool.


Yeah, its seems more sensible to have computer literacy taught to everyone, and then have programming and other more advanced stuff as an elective from age 11+ or thereabouts, having everyone try to do even basic programming is unlikely to be useful, and more likely to make for an unproductive period for everyone.
 
2012-12-20 10:27:23 AM

ModernLuddite: Full on CS courses for the average student would be a waste of time. Most people are just too damn stupid


That's why they're in school.
 
2012-12-20 10:31:57 AM
I don't know, being able to read and write very simply computer code can be the next literacy. Sure the average person today can't write a novel or would you want them too, but as the average person today shouldn't be writing significant computer programs. But being able to read if/then and functions would be highly beneficial to all.
 
2012-12-20 10:35:12 AM

Egoy3k: ha-ha-guy: /I still can't believe schools don't teach people how to change oil and air filters in cars

Hell you could make a whole semester about how to change the oil filter in one of these..

[marinasleeps.files.wordpress.com image 480x300]

/hot


Step 1: Select model of car for purchase where the steering wheel will not impale you in a frontal crash.
Step 2: Drive to the used car lot
etc.
 
2012-12-20 10:57:20 AM

MindStalker: I don't know, being able to read and write very simply computer code can be the next literacy. Sure the average person today can't write a novel or would you want them too, but as the average person today shouldn't be writing significant computer programs. But being able to read if/then and functions would be highly beneficial to all.


The fact that conditional statements need to be 'taught' instead of just quickly explained suggested a complete lack of logic and critical thinking skills. Address that instead.
 
2012-12-20 10:57:32 AM

ha-ha-guy: It wouldn't be unreasonable to have a class where one semester was password security, how to avoid phishing, security protocols, how determine your laptop really doesn't need to be replaced but rather is just needs more RAM (and how to put said RAM in it), etc. Then you could have a heavily suggested elective that taught one semester worth of python or something.


Like most college classes this one would be outdated by at least 5 years by the time it was developed and offered.
 
/relying on end users to know what is good security or not is a fools errand
//and the notion of switching out your own memory is soooo 2005
 
2012-12-20 10:57:42 AM

Kome: ModernLuddite: Full on CS courses for the average student would be a waste of time. Most people are just too damn stupid

That's why they're in school.


After taking an intro to Java class and seeing just how incredibly lost 90% of the class was in that (fairly simple) language, I tend to agree with ModernLuddite. Let's not waste our time.
 
2012-12-20 10:59:26 AM
sorry but wasnt critical thinking declared to be liberalism
 
2012-12-20 10:59:51 AM
Will this legislation exempt the south?
 
2012-12-20 11:01:22 AM
There are 10 types of people: those that understand binary and those that do not.
 
2012-12-20 11:04:02 AM

gingerjet: ha-ha-guy: It wouldn't be unreasonable to have a class where one semester was password security, how to avoid phishing, security protocols, how determine your laptop really doesn't need to be replaced but rather is just needs more RAM (and how to put said RAM in it), etc. Then you could have a heavily suggested elective that taught one semester worth of python or something.

Like most college classes this one would be outdated by at least 5 years by the time it was developed and offered.

/relying on end users to know what is good security or not is a fools errand
//and the notion of switching out your own memory is soooo 20

The problem with some comp sci programs, the goal is learning languages, rather than the theory.

 
2012-12-20 11:09:28 AM
Instead of teaching computer science, teach basic logic.

That's all computer science is, dressed up in electronics.
 
2012-12-20 11:21:11 AM

dittybopper: Instead of teaching computer science, teach basic logic.

That's all computer science is, dressed up in electronics.


I agree, although I think it's always a good idea to teach how a subject might actually be applied. I would never have done as well at calculus if I weren't also taking physics at the time, because it took the ethereal calculations and put a real world face on them. Use CS to apply the logic.
 
2012-12-20 11:45:39 AM
Computer sciences should be taught to everyone. I constantly have new teachers coming into the district who have no idea the basics of computer use, but they can text on any phone.
 
2012-12-20 11:49:39 AM

burndtdan: I agree, although I think it's always a good idea to teach how a subject might actually be applied. I would never have done as well at calculus if I weren't also taking physics at the time, because it took the ethereal calculations and put a real world face on them. Use CS to apply the logic.


I got a C in Calc yet an A in the Physics that utilized the very same Calc. In Calc exams I'd get overcome by the pile of numbers and end up doing something stupid even with the formulas right in front of me. In Physics, I could point to any number and remember that it represented something and kept me straight.
 
2012-12-20 11:56:31 AM
Unless Jesus was a computer programmer, it's not going to work in flyover-country.
 
2012-12-20 12:16:04 PM
Should  PC basics like security, e-mail, spreadsheets, and word processors be mandatory?  Should graduates have an overview of a datacenter?  Sure.  But they don't need to get into specifics.
 
2012-12-20 12:16:11 PM

jaybeezey: Computer sciences should be taught to everyone. I constantly have new teachers coming into the district who have no idea the basics of computer use, but they can text on any phone.


This! ^^  So do I! 22-year-old teachers who grew up with computers and laptops, who I assume use the Internet on a daily basis still need help on saving or printing a document. They also don't RTFS (read the f** screen)
 
2012-12-20 12:17:43 PM
If the US teaches everyone CS, then what excuse will corporations have for hiring visa workers at lower wages?
 
2012-12-20 12:23:03 PM
At the elementary school level I teach how to save documents with a logical name, print and the basics of the Internet. They get to do some word processing too.
 
Middle School we get into Excel and PowerPoint. I also introduce them into some logic and conditional statements including LOGO. Remember that damn turtle? They get to practice logic and critical thinking.
 
2012-12-20 12:26:41 PM
I'd prefer if we leave things as it is. With everyone calling programmers nerds, or saying they hate computers, being scared of computers, etc, programmers like me enjoy a huge demand and low supply sooooo we can be paid a whole lot.
 
2012-12-20 12:33:23 PM
Schools should have 2 semesters of required "shiat you should know in order to be a grownup."

It would teach things like how to establish yourself as a patient at a doctor/dentist, how to contact the Police without using 911, basic maintenance of various common things that break, how to file taxes, how to write a resume, and various other things most people learn by experience and trial and error.

In other words, shiat you wouldn't have learned from "good parenting", because good parents take care of it.
 
2012-12-20 12:51:07 PM

burndtdan: dittybopper: Instead of teaching computer science, teach basic logic.

That's all computer science is, dressed up in electronics.

I agree, although I think it's always a good idea to teach how a subject might actually be applied. I would never have done as well at calculus if I weren't also taking physics at the time, because it took the ethereal calculations and put a real world face on them. Use CS to apply the logic.


Yeah, but the logic itself is generic. Instead of showing how it can be applied in what is an admittedly arcane field, show how using logic can have concrete benefits in the real world. If you use CS examples instead of generic, everyday examples, then you haven't really taught them anything, other than CS.

I don't know how many meetings I've sat in where "X not Y" and "Y not X" were being discussed, and I had to bring up that they were missing cases where both X and Y were true, or some other similar situation where they didn't understand the consequences of what they were discussing because they hadn't considered it in a formal manner.

My fear is that if you only teach logic as an abstract, or you only use Computer Science examples, people won't generalize the knowledge.
 
2012-12-20 12:53:07 PM
American K-12 education absolutely stinks out loud.
 
2012-12-20 12:57:37 PM

torusXL: I'd prefer if we leave things as it is. With everyone calling programmers nerds, or saying they hate computers, being scared of computers, etc, programmers like me enjoy a huge demand and low supply sooooo we can be paid a whole lot.


It will always be thus.

You see, we've had what, something like 40 or perhaps 50 years of writing programming languages and various interfaces that were supposed to make programming easier and more accessible, and for the most part they've utterly failed in their mission.

Why?

Because learning the syntax of a programming language, or even learning how to drag and drop icons that represent blocks of code is the easy part. The hard part is thinking in a logical manner, and then translating that thought into code.

We've been teaching the wrong things.
 
2012-12-20 12:58:19 PM

bronyaur1: American K-12 education absolutely stinks out loud.


Could be worse. Could be silent but deadly.
 
2012-12-20 12:59:39 PM
God forbid they teach them logic.
 
2012-12-20 01:22:49 PM

dittybopper: Because learning the syntax of a programming language, or even learning how to drag and drop icons that represent blocks of code is the easy part. The hard part is thinking in a logical manner, and then translating that thought into code.

We've been teaching the wrong things.


In part, yes, but not all programming languages are what most people would consider "easy". I tend to think that Java is a poor choice for an introductory language because there's so much boilerplate that you need to deal with just to write a simple "Hello, world!" program, most of which you're probably not going to be able to explain to the students until several lessons into the course.

Someone upthread mentioned Python, which I think is an excellent introductory language because it's easy to learn, minimizes the boilerplate, and lets students focus on important stuff like logic and algorithms. It also has none of the limitations that make languages like BASIC ill-suited to real-world problems--you can use it to write a "Hello world!" program in just one line, but you can also use it for functional programming, you can do object-oriented programming, you can have first-class functions like in Lisp, and if you want to get crazy you can even use metaclasses.
 
2012-12-20 01:47:30 PM

gingerjet: Like most college classes this one would be outdated by at least 5 years by the time it was developed and offered.
 
/relying on end users to know what is good security or not is a fools errand


I think that the class would be a success if you could at least get it through their heads that a) everything they post online is accessible to the entire world, forever, b) there is no true anonymity on the internet, c) don't use the same password for your social networking that you use for your bank accounts, and d) that nice person offering you a cut of his inheritance is a scammer. 
 
The one thing I agree on is that this shouldn't be a college course. This should be taught no latter than junior high.
 
2012-12-20 02:00:51 PM
I sincerely believe that kids should be taught logic and looping structures (and very basic programming - remember LOGO?) in elementary school. Then have them working with easy programming languages like HTML (and PHP/Jscript) and Python by middle school.
 
2012-12-20 02:19:18 PM

Sergeant Grumbles: burndtdan: I agree, although I think it's always a good idea to teach how a subject might actually be applied. I would never have done as well at calculus if I weren't also taking physics at the time, because it took the ethereal calculations and put a real world face on them. Use CS to apply the logic.

I got a C in Calc yet an A in the Physics that utilized the very same Calc. In Calc exams I'd get overcome by the pile of numbers and end up doing something stupid even with the formulas right in front of me. In Physics, I could point to any number and remember that it represented something and kept me straight.


I think that's part of the problem with math education here. The higher maths are taught as abstractions instead of being explained through hands-on teaching. That would make it much easier for kids to pick up. Also introduce simplified concepts from higher math to younger kids; some may pick up on them early, others may not, but still it will not hurt to keep kids interested in higher math.

/and we should not hold back children who are slow to grasp algebra
//like how I was removed from advanced math in 6th grade because I didn't pick up on algebra as quickly as the others
 
2012-12-20 03:12:31 PM

anfrind: dittybopper: Because learning the syntax of a programming language, or even learning how to drag and drop icons that represent blocks of code is the easy part. The hard part is thinking in a logical manner, and then translating that thought into code.

We've been teaching the wrong things.

In part, yes, but not all programming languages are what most people would consider "easy". I tend to think that Java is a poor choice for an introductory language because there's so much boilerplate that you need to deal with just to write a simple "Hello, world!" program, most of which you're probably not going to be able to explain to the students until several lessons into the course.

Someone upthread mentioned Python, which I think is an excellent introductory language because it's easy to learn, minimizes the boilerplate, and lets students focus on important stuff like logic and algorithms. It also has none of the limitations that make languages like BASIC ill-suited to real-world problems--you can use it to write a "Hello world!" program in just one line, but you can also use it for functional programming, you can do object-oriented programming, you can have first-class functions like in Lisp, and if you want to get crazy you can even use metaclasses.


That's a side issue: The important thing is to teach them how to think in a logical manner, unbound by any particular technological implementation of it.
 
2012-12-20 03:13:34 PM

germ78: /and we should not hold back children who are slow to grasp algebra
//like how I was removed from advanced math in 6th grade because I didn't pick up on algebra as quickly as the others


A big part of the problem is that our existing educational system moves at a constant speed regardless of how quickly individual students learn the information. As a result, students who are capable but slower are left behind, students who can learn faster are bored, and only a tiny number of students learn at their ideal speed. On top of that, since the curriculum continues moving even if students haven't fully mastered the subject matter, it's easy for students to have "holes" in their knowledge that may not be immediately obvious but become crippling later on--in my case, I breezed through most math until I got to calculus, and suddenly everything I was doing relied on algebra skills that I had learned but not mastered, and things suddenly became much more difficult.
 
2012-12-20 03:49:05 PM
Step 1 have the neighborhood moms save their grocery receipts for apple's school computers program

Step 2 load up the apple ii es with oregon trail and mathmunchers

Step 3 allow kids afterschool time on the computers

Worked for me.

Re teaching logic v language, that's the diff between a 4 year cs degree and a community college certification program to me.
 
2012-12-20 05:34:47 PM

anfrind: I breezed through most math until I got to calculus, and suddenly everything I was doing relied on algebra skills that I had learned but not mastered, and things suddenly became much more difficult.


I struggled mightily with algebra, but excelled at geometry and trig. I had a lot of trouble with calculus, but I think that was because I wasn't taught it correctly. I am a visual thinker and large math formula splashed on a wall without me being able to picture its meaning causes my math processors to short out.
 
2012-12-20 08:42:14 PM

germ78: I struggled mightily with algebra, but excelled at geometry and trig. I had a lot of trouble with calculus, but I think that was because I wasn't taught it correctly. I am a visual thinker and large math formula splashed on a wall without me being able to picture its meaning causes my math processors to short out.


Yep, same thing. I imagine it's like that for a whole lot of students who are otherwise "good" at math. The abstract numbers used in theoretical mathematics like algebra and calculus aren't just boring, but are harder to grasp because there's no solid way of measuring what you've done, no way to check yourself without going back through each problem searching for something you did wrong and everything being a number with no relation to anything but the number before it. At least in geometry or trig or physics you can see "Yeah, this triangle can't have 215 degrees in total" or "That would put the velocity as great than the speed of light..." as a kind of check to go back to see where you might have moved a decimal.
There's all kinds of problems when trying to teach abstractly something that could be taught practically.
 
2012-12-20 09:54:31 PM

germ78: I sincerely believe that kids should be taught logic and looping structures (and very basic programming - remember LOGO?) in elementary school. Then have them working with easy programming languages like HTML (and PHP/Jscript) and Python by middle school.


First, you should sincerely learn that HTML is not a programming language.
 
2012-12-20 11:26:02 PM

torusXL: First, you should sincerely learn that HTML is not a programming language.


Well, learning the difference between a markup language and a scripting language would help, but I get what you're saying.

Also, programming seems to be the only profitable application of my philosophy degree.

/symbolic logic is quite handy
 
2012-12-21 04:44:00 AM
American schools really need to get back to the BASICs.
 
2012-12-21 12:03:29 PM

un4gvn666: Kome: ModernLuddite: Full on CS courses for the average student would be a waste of time. Most people are just too damn stupid

That's why they're in school.

After taking an intro to Java class and seeing just how incredibly lost 90% of the class was in that (fairly simple) language, I tend to agree with ModernLuddite. Let's not waste our time.


I wouldn't say it is as high as 90%, but from the research I seen and experience, about 50% of students who take computer science and programming just don't get it. Of those that do, perhaps 25% will make good programmers, and the other can get the theories but lack a certain creativity in getting everything to work together.

By the end of the first year however, you pretty much eradicated those not suited to it.

Oh and yes the mathematics and logic skills are solely lagging in those early classes, however, I find the hardest thing people have is how to assemble a program from basic parts like objects and algorithms into a working program, because discouraged and give up.
 
2012-12-21 11:42:48 PM

Jabberwookiee: torusXL: First, you should sincerely learn that HTML is not a programming language.

Well, learning the difference between a markup language and a scripting language would help, but I get what you're saying.

Also, programming seems to be the only profitable application of my philosophy degree.

/symbolic logic is quite handy


Hell yeah it is. One of my biggest pet peeves about people in general is that they do not understand if-then from first-order predicate calculus. They don't have to know what FOPC is (I'm saying that so you'll know what I'm trying to say here), but just wish people would understand if-then. "If it's raining, the ground is wet". Well guess what, the ground can be wet if it isn't raining, but it can't be dry if it is raining. That simple understanding would go a long way to help a lot of people understand things like science, Venn diagrams, and statistics. Sadly, it's not an intuitive concept at first glance.

Just trolling about the HTML thing ;) Actually, I agree. It's a good place to start because it gives fast results. Throw down some HTML, whip it open with any browser, and voila! Text, colors, animations, etc, all of your own making! From there it's a short hop and skip to more general programming skills with (as you mentioned), things like PHP to add some dynamism. It's the programming gateway drug.

There's even some logic to learn even though HTML by itself is static. A newbie needs to understand the implications of the markup, and understand how combinations of elements might produce an unexpected effect, and even understand that each browser might react differently.
 
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