I took a computer science course in high school. Plain old computer science, not AP computer science. Midway through the course I was doing a presentation and asked the class to create a program to print the numbers between 1 and 10. Several students did the following:
Needless to say, we didn’t learn much in that class.
President Obama has a plan to make sure everyone has a chance to learn computer science. CS, supposedly, is a new “basic skill necessary for economic opportunity.” For simple computer skills I doubt that they are more important now. Consider how much easier it is to create a simple small business website. You used to have to know HTML.
New York City has a goal to make computer science available in every high school and Chicago is going to make it a requirement by 2018. There’s still time for angry parents and art teachers to get them to postpone the requirement, and they may use the excuse that they can’t find enough teachers. The LA school board, at the behest of the Gates foundation, passed an algebra II requirement back in 2005 but has yet to enforce it.
Though I think it can be a worthwhile subject for some kids to learn, I think it’s inviting trouble to force schools to offer it. If almost no one in the school wants to learn computer programming then the instructors will get the message quickly that the class, which will be an elective class, can’t be too hard or no one will sign up. Kids will see it as a “screw around on the computer” class. For the first year or two liberals will marvel at these Underprivileged Youth learning to code. Then one day a reporter with basic knowledge of programming will be offered a tour of these classes and will dig a little deeper than the others and be shocked to learn that most of the kids can’t code to save their lives.