Computer Science Education
Foreign language has been one of my favorite parts of my education. Speaking with others in their native languages is one of my passions, and I think that it would be great if everyone endeavored to learn more languages so people could communicate more. However, I see a lot of people disillusioned by foreign language; I would argue that the majority of people that I have gone to school with have either forgotten most of their foreign language, thus rendering it useless, or never really got a grasp on it, claiming that it wasn’t one of their strengths, consequently impairing the amount of effort they put into learning it. In countries like Italy, students learn multiple foreign languages from an early age and achieve fluency. I met a girl a few weeks ago who could seamlessly transition between tongues, and it was completely normal because she and her classmates had all learned from a young age. I believe that the state of foreign language education in the United States is very deficient. As a result, I think we have two options: we could either reform foreign language, putting a much greater emphasis on it from a much earlier age, or we could replace the requirement with the ability to study computer science.
I think that math is a “healthier” subject in American education and that it is important that students develop mathematical skills and the type of thinking that accompanies it. However, as much as I love foreign language, I do see an opportunity here. Computer Science education is a very valuable thing, and I would like to see it spread throughout primary and secondary education. Giving students the opportunity to take programming classes instead of foreign language classes — while not ideal in my eyes — should be an option. From the readings, it is apparent that despite several groups of dissenters, this idea is gaining popularity. It has my support.
The greatest single obstacle to implementing Computer Science as a core requirement or offering is not the fact that there is no time or space in the current curriculum, but rather the fact that there will very obviously be a lack of talent in the space. Multiple articles cited the fact that salaries in the tech industry are much more generous than those offered by elementary, middle, and high schools. It will be difficult to obtain the necessary talent, and teaching teachers computer science may be tough. Subsidies are an option, or a standardized and well-thought-out program of educating teachers on computer science are seemingly two of the only options. All-in-all, I think that lawmakers should put serious thought into this issue, as it is a worthwhile pursuit.
One last point: the greatest hurdle from every student learning to program is a lack of confidence. Teachers need to empower students and give them the assurance that they can learn what appears to some to be impossible. This may be more important than the actual content of their Computer Science education.