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Middle School Programming

Original post made by yAPTR-yetAnotherPTownResident on Sep 21, 2013

I am wondering what percentage of kids can program a computer by the time they finish middle school. It is becoming an essential skill, and there is even a laptop program in middle school but the aim of that program is not programming.

Will appreciate if someone can enlighten me.

Comments (6)

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 21, 2013 at 1:54 am

I don't think that computer programming is an essential skill for anyone except computer programmers. Moreover, computer languages are constantly evolving with new frameworks and libraries constantly being added or modified, so even if there were a school program to ensure that students did gain some programming proficiency their skills and knowledge would quickly become out of date. In fact, even computer programming professionals have to devote considerable time keeping themselves up to date with the latest trends and developments in their rapidly moving field.

Students should have some knowledge about the fundamentals and important principles of how computers operate and are programmed, but I don't think that developing an in-depth knowledge of computer programming is worth the time and effort.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Sep 21, 2013 at 9:58 am

First of all you need put on a blindfold. Secondly, you'll need a flashlight!

Now, remove the blindfold and turn on the flashlight.

DONE!

HOORAY!


Posted by Techie, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm

There are technology standards for students created by ISTE- the International Society for Technology in Education. Web Link They give a very clear picture of the skills that are important for students in k-12. Many students are very involved with coding and use amazing programs like Scratch and Code Academy and many more to learn these skills.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Sam,

Many of the fundamentals (loops, variables, decisions, logic ...) haven't changed for 50 years. I think that learning to program, even in a language in framework that may go out of date, is important. I don't think you can really learn "fundamentals and important principles of how computers operate" without writing and debugging a little code.

There are many programs and books that can help. My son enjoyed "Hello World" by William and Carter Sande.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 22, 2013 at 10:13 pm

When "yAPTR" started this thread he wrote of computer programming as becoming an "essential skill", so his focus seemed to be on middle school teaching of computer programming as a vocational skill or as vocational preparation. As I pointed out, I really don't think that it's a good use of time.

You take a slightly different slant, looking at computer programming as a way to learn "fundamentals and important principles" about how modern computers operate. While I don't object as strongly to that more "academic" way of looking at it, again I'm not sure if it's the best use of limited classroom and study time. A better use of time might be to study some of the classics in logic, such as George Boole's "An Investigation of the Laws of Thought" or some more recent thought-provoking books dealing with logic such as "Godel, Escher, Bach".

As for the timeless fundamentals of programming that you mentioned, yes we still have loops, variables, and decision statements. But despite that the basic nature of many modern object-oriented programming languages is far removed from the procedurally-based programming languages that I grew up with when I was young. Already knowing the fundamentals of loops, variables, etc., didn't help me very much when it came to learning how to program in an object-oriented programming language. So, again, while I have no objection to quickly learning about such programming fundamentals, I don't think that it's very valuable information from either a vocational or academic viewpoint.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I'm wondering what percentage of middle school students can design and build a hybrid automobile. This is an essential skill in the modern world where internal combustion engines need to work seamlessly with electric and perhaps hydrogen cars. The basics of getting a car to move has not changed in 100 years, likewise with the ICE, yet there are so many kids today that can't even build an ICE from teh ground up, let alone a hydrid system. These kids should be able to build an ICE if they have any hope of ever driving a car one day.


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