Coding: 'suitable for exceptionally dull weirdos'

One of the reasons, why plans to introduce coding for all to the ICT curriculum in England and Wales, is 'stupid' - says Willard Foxton. Our article is here. Comments below!

This topic was created by Drewc .

Anonymous Coward

Re: Comment from the Cockwomble in question

No you didn't, Willard, any more than Max Gogarty wrote his infamous gap year blog with the deliberate intention of getting flamed by thousands of readers.

You got pwned, pure and simple.

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Re: Comment from the Cockwomble in question

I actually didn't take issue with the term "boring weirdos", as many people have stereotypical views of us programmers (or any other type of "IT Geek"), and using these in a provocative way, I'm sure, appeals to a certain demographic. Personally, that type of "ooh look at me, look how controversial I am" journalism certainly does nothing for me, but then again I'm not a Telegraph reader. It was clearly an attempt to provoke a reaction from within the tech community, which it did. It also spawned various articles in tech news publications, which helped your cause. You don't need to pretend reader numbers aren't important to you, though.

What I did take issue with was the overall view that teaching coding to all kids shouldn't be done. You were right in pointing out that the current system is broken. But relying on after school, extra curricular "clubs" to instill the coding "bug" is not the way forward. I'd also agree that early primary school is too young for coding (5-7 year olds), but basic computer science and coding should be included in all early high school teaching years, and possibly even later primary school years. Children should be taught what goes on behind the scenes when the power button on their laptop is pressed, as well as how it's possible for their favourite website to appear on the screen.

Telling us it's a waste of time trying to teach all kids to code is like saying we shouldn't make all kids sit through PE, art, geography, history etc. for some of their academic lives. Of course a portion of them are going to hate it, as I hated PE and religious education when I was at school, but once they reach the third year of high school (or "year 9" as it's now known), they can bin off the subjects they no longer want. I don't see how programming and advanced computing is any different. How are those kids with a knack for coding going to know about it, if they aren't exposed to it in some way?

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Re: Comment from the Cockwomble in question

I understand and appreciate the point about insulting people in journalism to get a rise and start a debate, but I don't think you can have it both ways. If you're going to insult someone, suck it up and fucking insult them. Then, when they object, you can back down and apologise and say you were wrong, or you can ignore them, or you can double down and insult them some more. You know, behave like you actually mean what you're writing. Insulting people and then, when they object, protesting, "Oh, but that was my journalism, not my real opinion," is pathetic. My problem here isn't that you're insulting coders; it's that you're insulting readers, by publicly claiming to not really mean the stuff you write for them. Can anyone imagine one of the great opinion writers like Christopher Hitchens or Julie Birchill doing this? "Sorry if you were offended, Archbishop, but I didn't actually mean any of those things I said about Christianity." Feh. If you want to adopt a persona, fine: adopt it. Properly.

Incidentally, I meet loads of boring weirdos in IT, and they all meet at least one too.

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Re: Comment from the Cockwomble in question

Computer science taught properly is far from "non academic". Its a rigorous and broad syllabus (not to be confused with computer studies, or ICT).

Its also worth highlighting that maths and physics, while very worthwhile subjects in their own right, are not in any way prerequisites for computer science. Yes there are some specialised areas of software development that require strong mathematical skills,. however most don't.

Successful software development can draw on many skills and aptitudes - many creative as well as hard science based. A maths degree is not going to make you a wizard at good user interface design.

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Re: Comment from the Cockwomble in question

Upvoted. Good point, well made.

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Re: Comment from the Cockwomble in question

How much time did Foxton spend on this reply vs the original article ?

Such long winded concern for education. All a child would learn from reading Foxton's original article is that education and qualifications should be treated with contempt. Base.

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Anonymous Coward

It is not about Programming Stupid

It is all about problem solving

something that isn't taught anymore even at University.

Take one Graduate I interviewed last month. 1st Class Hons Degree in Comp Sci. I asked him to solve a relatively simple problem and how his solution could be tested.

Total and abosolute failure.

Despite being a total cockwomble there is IMHO a modicm of truth behind some of what he is saying.

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algorithms before algebra?

Why not?

Basically, what is an algorithm, besides a series of self-contained logical steps, including the idea of decision points (conditionals) and looping? Leaving aside other practical issues like input/output and variables or data structures, that boils down to only three very simple concepts, which should be very easy to teach and demonstrate, whether it's with flowcharts, traditional programming languages, or hybrid pedagogic languages like Squeak.

Even these simple concepts don't have to be introduced formally and all at once. Lesson plans can be structured in such a way that kids are learning these concepts before they even see a flowchart or whatever. Take something like teaching them about quotients and remainders by repeated division (which can be taught with physical props or analogies, such as a string on a spool). You can gauge their grasp of the concepts by asking them simple questions like "what's our next step here", "are we finished yet", "how many times did we wind the string", "how much string is on the spool", "how long is the rest of it", and so on. Later, you can ask the same questions in the context of a simple flowchart and show that the two approaches are identical.

If kids had a basic idea of what an algorithm is in these terms, who's to say that it's not going to make it easier for them to get a handle on what's going on when they come to study algebra? Many topics in algebra have natural algorithmic counterparts. For example: positional number systems (dealing with carries, doing long multiplication/division), solving simultaneous equations (with matrices and Gaussian elimination), affine transformations (possibly using iterated function systems as a fun diversion), solving single equations (Newton's method, or simply using a computer program to graph the equation; also Logo-like languages and tools--like DrGeo, for example--in general are a handy tool for learning trigonometry), symbolic calculus (though I think that Prolog-like languages might be a bit too advanced) and so on. This may not suit everybody, but I think that at least giving kids the basic tools, and tailoring the teaching methods that work best for different groups of students, you're much more likely to get students to understand maths and algebra and get much better results as a consequence. At least a multi-stranded approach has more of a chance to engage kids' imagination and critical faculties.

/€0.02

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Pint

The last

damn thing I want is more bleeding coders

Takes long enough to hammer the basics of controling the robots into a 17 yr old brain first without having to remove whatever 'coding' or 'programing' they've done first

Take a simple safety routine of querying the PLC bits for guarding and if the machine is a safe state to start.

Said 17 yr old will write a routine that queries each of the 16 bits in turn, then get upset when I punch him in the face and tell him to use a 16 bit AND function to test all the bits at once because its way quicker than asking the plc for 16 different items to return.

Also its a good point to remember that the world is divided into 2, those who can code... and those that mock those who can code.

Gawd I'm getting grumpy on a friday

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Re: The last

Sounds like it's less a case of them being incompitent and more you not explaining properly the differences between hardware and software programming. Just because some aspects of programming software carry over, doesn't mean that there aren't important differences between the two

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Bah!

Brave words spoken by someone who has never plumbed in a new water heater or changed out a clutch. I doubt he knows one end of a python script from another either (I'm told python is the new education darling in the computer world).

You know what is a real niche job these days? Newspaper journalist. Especially shirt-thick newspaper journalist who cannot make a point without stupidly insulting those people who make his world work so well he doesn't need a shovel when he goes for a crap or a horse if he wants to get out of town for a bit.

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Mushroom

In urinalism you can make up neologisms, scramble syntax,grammar and spelling to you're hart's content, deer, and be called creative. Coding is a discipline. No wonder Foxtongue has to attack it.

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plumbing and car mechanics

I'm not a plumber or a car mechanic, but I know enough to turn off at the main to stop a flood, and change a wheel. These are basic life-skills, and, with the number of digital devices we have nowadays, so is programming.

I'm reminded of a Monty-Python sketch, a world of Supermen, where the skills of Mr. Bicycle Repairman were much needed.

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Thumb Down

Personally, I think learning to write code or queries is a pretty useful skill to have

It's all about logical construction, which is a good general skill to encourage in students.

Sounds like the writer at The Telegraph learned about coding and software developers from "Everything I Ever Learned About Technology I Picked Up From Reading Dilbert"

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Anonymous Coward

The point is that 9 out of 10 kids won't continue with coding but you find the 1 person who will at an early age and give them a head start.

Computers aren't going away, we need some basic grasp of how they work.

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I want to meet the interesting people

I'm happy to accept I'm dull, though Willard's post here already shows that he was just using that term to provoke. However what I really don't get, is that for all the people that do genuinely look on me as a geek, or a dull wierdo, is what do they do that's so interesting?

Are these people arriving at work riding a kangaroo? Do they enter the office jumping from a plane, then parachute in through the 5th floor window? What do they do???

If you're interesting, or know anyone who is interesting, please write to me with the answer at "this post, the register forums, Vulture Central, London".

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WTF?

"..As a subject, it only appeals to a limited set of people"

I agree, and as a subject scatological studies apply to limited numbers as well, did I miss this guys point (possibly because his profession as well only applies to limited set)?

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The Government wants to teach all children English. Here is why it’s a stupid idea!

Some of my developer friends have been looking for a good journalist, they are perfect examples of why our kids don’t work for the Telegraph. They’re driven, articulate, incredibly intelligent individuals stoking the fires of an industry that could help take this country back to the financial power house it once was. Rather than attention seeking guff pedlars, like the bulk of all Journalists.

I’m all for people learning English – I once read a poem by Dylan Thomas that was incredibly good, and I sure I remember once reading a newspaper article written for the benefits of the reader that didn’t try to perpetuate social stereotypes in order to get a few clicks for advert impressions. I do however think we need to be aware of it’s limitations.

English is a quaint, peculiar, dated skill. A bit like flower arranging, and competitive gurning. Now I’m not saying it doesn’t have it’s place in the modern world. Fanciful collections of stories correlated into one tome provide millions of the UKs newspaper readers with solace and entertainment daily.

There is a reason the inspiring ‘Start-Up’ generation of terrifyingly driven, talented, young developers frequently hire the skills of these ‘English Practitioners’ to help them embellish the textual promotional material they need to excite their potential customers. But if you leave a Journalist on his own he’ll start creating works of pure fantasy that perpetuate a significantly damaging stereotype.

==

English isn’t for everyone, personally I’m dyslexic. Written English was a phenomenal struggle for me going through school. I just couldn’t do it, I was incredibly lucky and both my parents where software engineers I was exposed to software development quite young, and I absolutely hated it. It was too easy.

I then proceeded to shun developing in favour a more scientific educational and career path. But it just kept coming back, the nagging feeling that most of the challenges I was presented could be made significantly easier with a bit of coding. I became passionate about solving problems, with code.

It’s unsurprising I came to that conclusion, seeing as the rest of the world did as well. If it wasn’t for developers your life would be significantly harder and quite a lot shitter. It’s not even worth pointing out anymore that almost all of the human race come into contact with the output of a developer almost every minute of their day.

But there simply isn’t enough of us, and this is partially due to a lack of exposure during this countries children’s most character forming years. I’m not going to pretend I pay much attention to the state of Education in this country, but I have a number of teachers in my social group (yes, I’m a developer and I have friends.. shocking) and am very aware that this Gove bloke isn’t entirely popular. Exposing children to a skill that touches almost every aspect of modern life is essential. Yes some will detest it, some will struggle, some will find it boring. However I’m sure most people can relate the same feeling to Maths, English or Drama everyone has ‘that’ subject at school they dreaded.

But creating a realistic ICT curriculum that shows what amazing things can be achieved with code. Also without trying to sound shallow, what amazing amount of money can be made. Is a must for this countries economy. Some of them will even enjoy it.

But a more significant problem is the perpetuation in the media that developers are predominantly ‘dull weirdos’; overweight blokes with no social skills who go home at night and wank over Princess Leia. This doesn’t entirely make for visions of an appealing workplace does it?

Now stereotypes happen for a reason, and yes the industry does attract social introverts who have a passion for expressing themselves by creating amazing software, forging their identities as ‘future wizards’ with very little concern for social chest beating. These guys and girls communicate with the 0′s and 1′s of the software and make some beautiful things. But to survive the software industry in this country needs balance, it needs people who can understand both the technical side and the personal side, the code and the business. We need leaders who can knock up a prototype app before lunch then wow the board of directors in the afternoon.

There is a place in my industry for everyone and crap like this is damaging.

-------

From my blog (which I actually created specifically to write this post)

http://philbennettcoder.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/the-government-want-to-teach-all-children-english-here-is-why-its-a-stupid-idea/

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Re: The Government wants to teach all children English. Here is why it’s a stupid idea!

Nice one, phil_bennett.

And aint We need leaders who can knock up a prototype app before lunch then wow the board of directors in the afternoon the GOD's aweful truth.:-)

GOD = Global Operating Device.

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... understand the definition of an algorithm .. before they are due to be taught algebra...

Try this:

(Algorithm)

If (I_am_Good == TRUE)

then Chocolate

Else:

Brusell Sprouts.

(Algebra)

(ax*ax) + bx +c ? "meh...So what?"

"seven to 11 year-olds will have to code programs "in at least two programming languages"."

Pisser, that. My son was fluent in both Finnish and English when he was about 10, then started Swedish and German. He wants to tackle Russian next, fluency before he's 16. Exceptional? No, not really.

Oh, and his bit about teaching (computing) in prisons? Didn't think stripey-shirted guests could get access to internet (which they WILL need to program anything more complex than an 8-string rosary bead processor (Abacus?)

No, I'm no coder. I just use Python (BASIC for Geeks)

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Boffin

There's a REALLY GOOD point HERE; It simplyneeds to be better articulated.

I think the commenter might be confusing opportunity with mandatory requirement.

There's no question but that there is a desperate need to teach our children how to best handle the teaching of this "new" technology, There's also no question that the way it's been handled so far is an absolute disaster.

The reasons for all this and the methods to combat it MUST be revolutionary and are too important to be left to professional "educators" and pedagogues.

;

My suggestion is very complicated: it's called 'Back to the Basics Plus Two": back to 'readin', writin', and 'rithmatic, PLUS a very strong dose of DISCIPLINE and LOGIC.

You'd be amazed at what young people would accomplish under this regimen, and out from under the thumbs of "professional educators".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There's a REALLY GOOD point HERE; It simplyneeds to be better articulated.

"My suggestion is very complicated: it's called 'Back to the Basics Plus Two": back to 'readin', writin', and 'rithmatic, PLUS a very strong dose of DISCIPLINE and LOGIC.

You'd be amazed at what young people would accomplish under this regimen, and out from under the thumbs of "professional educators"."

Sounds dangerously right wing to me (in fact, it sound dangerously French), but I like it. It's getting high time we cut the crap out of education. Not to mention the choice. I don't get the choice thing. Cut the crap and, IMHO, you don't need to give everyone choice.

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job protection

He's just worried he'll be replaced by a very small shell script.

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Anonymous Coward

Who coding isn't for.....

Well coding certainly isn't for the kind of person who took a three year computer science degree, and has been trying to convince the world he (Why is it always a he?) is not terribly technical ever since. For everyone else, I think it's probably ok.

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ICT != Coding

"Coding is a niche, mechanical skill, a bit like plumbing or car repair."

EXACTLY! It doesn't help that governments, teaching unions and teachers have been deliberating confusing the difference between ICT ("driving") and coding ("automotive mechanics").

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"What I got at school was some ol' Mac to "learn" using a word processor and such (that might be part of the reason why I still can't stand Apple;-)."

Same here pretty much -- we took a typing class, luckily they still had like 1 or 2 IBM Selectrics left when I took it (which have a keyboard very similar to the IBM Model M), instead of having to type on the dreadful keyboards the Macs were saddled with (not as bad as the current ones, but the bumps were still on the wrong keys.)

As for learning languages -- First, I was required to take music and art classes I had absolutely zero use for, so I don't see a problem with some introductory computing classes. It'll stop people from thinking the computer runs from magic, and give them some vague idea of what is happening in there. On the other hand, I'm not going to get all worked up if they don't have it either, I've talked to people who just cannot follow even a brief bit of logic ('if x is true then y is true'... will go right over their head), and for these people it's a waste of time, they could spend all semester trying to write up a loop to print their name 10 times and probably not succeed.

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Angel

Prostitution may have been the first profession, but software development will be the last. When they don't need us anymore, the machines will be thinking for themselves, and the age of employment shall be well and truly over.

Everyone should be *exposed* to software development - if someone has the knack, its a wonderful skill - it gives you a level of empowerment and control over the electronic toys in our life which few others achieve

But very few people will be drawn to coding - if you don't have the "dull weirdo" mindset, it just won't interest you.

Which is rather a shame, because in a few years, there may be precious little else to do, if you want to earn a living.

We live in an age where cars can drive themselves, where CNC metal working machines have replaced entire teams of skilled craftsmen, where rules engines diagnose disease with inhuman skill, where every profession is slowly being encroached by artificial intelligence.

In a few years, the blessed things will even start to have *ideas* - so what will you do then, ideas man?

Coding skill is a hedge against a future of unemployment - but only for those who love to code.

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It doesn't have to just be the dull weirdos, some quite entertaining ones can write code too.

Anyway, coding is the last[*] stage of a much bigger process - in order to write code, one has to have given some thought to what the finished item is supposed to do and how to do it. It's often done by breaking things into ever smaller blocks until the coding side of things becomes relatively trivial because the block complexity is low. Algorithms are the key.

Not everyone has a brain suitable for writing software. In the same way that we're not all great artists, musicians and theoretical physicists, some people find it hard to handle the mindset required for good code design. So no, it shouldn't be forced on every child, because to some it will not be relevant, but ICT should be far more than just learning how to drive MS Word, Powerpoint and Excel, which is what it seems to have become.

[*] Not strictly true, testing, debugging and verification should all come afterwards. If you get it right first time, the debugging can be skipped.

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Zot

Coding is a tool.

A sculptor uses the best tools he can find to make the things he imagines, the tools are a necessary path to the final product, not the product itself. Some programmers just spend all day looking at the tools and choosing the chisel type and hammer. Dull indeed. : p

If the final products can be vaguely reverse engineered in lessens it would be much more entertaining and interesting for teaching as a whole. And create a backward journey down in to the more complex processes of computer algorithms. Instead of starting at the 0s and 1s stage. It might get more people interested from the start.

Programming is NOT about programming, it's about building and creating something much bigger.

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Let's face it, the stereotypical geek exists but to characterise these people as 'dull weirdos' is shallow. Often they're very interesting and funny people albeit without great social skills. Also as has been pointed out IT is not just about coding - hordes of people are employed in network support, design, sales, accounting, even HR (who'd have thunk it?). Some of the dullest people I've met in IT were coked up marketing twats.

Part of the probIem (if the problem is that aren't there are swarms of Linus Torvalds-alikes) in the UK is that programming is considered an entry level job. In my experience unless they are very dedicated to coding, most people, once the novelty has worn off, soon try to climb the greasy poll - senior dev, team lead, dev manager, department manager because that's the only way to increase your take home. Others will become business analysts or project managers for the same reasons. Quite a few of the people I know who joined the industry in the late 90's on the back of the dot com boom, have left for completely unrelated careers (not due to lack of skill - just lack of interest).

Not sure what qualifies this guy to comment on coding or education anyway. Does he have experience of either? Seems like more silicon roundabout waffle.

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Taste of own medicine?

I find the wafer-thin-skin reactions to being 'insulted' here mildly bemusing. After all, stupid insults 'in the interests of a good story' are pretty much the stock-in-trade of El Reg, aren't they?

I mean, if someone had written a similar story here about 'boring teachers', I can't imagine many commentards batting an eyelid before piling in with a chorus of 'ayes'.

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Re: Taste of own medicine?

El Reg is reporting on an article on the Telegraph website, so little point in bringing up El Reg's stock in trade, which appears to be irrelevant.

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Good work fella

As most coding jobs have (and continue) to go abroad (India, Czech Republic, Poland.. next stop Ukraine), he's got a point.. why try to force the reluctant to try yet another skill they'll find dull, resent and ultimately despise, both the subject and the exponents of it? There's precious little work in the UK for any decent money, as most of it has been offshored.

We'd be better off teaching bricklaying as (in case you hadn't noticed) the standard of work provided by builders is expensive and shocking. Just add a bit of gravel and concrete into the sandpit and tell the kids they've only got a few hours to play with the lego while it's still "workable".

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Coding is a fundamental tech skill. Not everybody needs to know how to do it, just like not everybody needs to know how to fix their car. But we need to teach the basics in schools so the child can find out if they are interested in it, and we as a nation can find more coders at as young an age as possible, e.g. 16. Because if we don't, there are thousands of people in India and China who are learning this skill, and who in decades to come will allow companies in their countries to leave the west for dead in growth just through sheer numbers of people working in this area. We need more coders, not less, to create the Googles and Amazon's of tomorrow.

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Coding vs Writing - which is the dull mechanical skill?

You start off with a set of results you want to achieve. These depend on each other and on external factors. You arrange them in the correct logical sequence, reference the external factors, and connect everything together. If this doesn't produce the required output, you go through making adjustments and re-ordering until it does. Finally, you make sure that it's all syntactically valid and easy to follow.

A generalised description of coding, or possibly of journalistic writing. (If you're a great author there's probably a bit more to it, though I love the idea of Finnegan's Wake as the literary equivalent of obfuscated Perl.)

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Teaching Activities

There was a time, ages ago it seems, when schools didn't specialize in churning out deplorably useless children, in fact their mission was quite the opposite. Look at the 60+ crowd, they might not be able to do much in the way of algebra, but I bet they can all make fucking change and read a ruler. Their math skills are beyond that of many college kids today and many of those old folks never set foot inside a college.

Part of that is because there were activities which seemed frivolous, but were in fact appropriate learning mechanisms for the times. Today's kids need appropriate learning mechanisms just as much and seeing as how they're all about technology it is simply shortsighted not to leverage those interests. Programming has all the basics of core skills teaching and complies (ha!) them in a way that can not only be positioned as interesting, but can't be done in any other single way. From math and science to good grammar and spelling to logic and critical thinking and context/content analysis, everything is there. The only thing it can't be used to teach are social graces and physical education but those are different problems.

Hell, you could argue that well designed software is also an exercise in management as good software gets you through the work and you didn't even know you were being guided the entire time. Just like a good manager.

As far as cockwomble goes, what a fabulous word! Every effort should be made to get OED inclusion! They'll take anything now, and this word is far better than most.

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting article.

Should they teach programming to 7 year old? Maybe... I think there is a bigger question: What should we be teaching 7 year olds?

At the most basic level we, as a society, need our children to learn reading, writing and basic math skills. Without those basics, everything else is meaningless. As such these should be drilled into kids for the first several years of their schooling period. Let's call that through the 3rd grade.

Once they have those basics covered, the next step is to introduce things like history, science and social skills. History should cover global items such as the rise of man with a focus on pivotal periods. Science, at least early on, ought to be only to a depth to inspire interest. Such as the basics for biology, chemistry and physics. Social skills should include what it means to be a citizen, how the country was formed, as well as influencing skills such as presenting persuasive arguments and debate. At this point we ought to be through the 8th grade.

9th through 12th ought to allow more freedom to dive into areas the child finds interesting. Teaching basic reading/writing and math skills should be anathema to this level and indicative of complete and total failure of the education system. This time period should allow them to go more in depth based upon interest in a safe manner. Meaning, if they decide that biology isn't for them, then maybe Physics or psychology or programming is... The point is that at this time they should be free to try out various fields before getting to college.

University/College - To me, I don't believe a college should offer courses on basic math or writing. If a person can't exhibit competence at this level then they need to go to a remedial school until they can. Seriously, forcing college students through 6 hours of English Comp represents a failure in primary school education.

Also, I don't believe Universities should enforce a "well rounded" education. Kids are taking 5+ years to get through school. Why? In part because there are so many unrelated courses they are forced to take. Why should a Comp Sci student be forced to take "understanding artistic forms" or "western civilization"? Does it add anything to the student's ability to excel in their chosen field? Unlikely.

More to the point, I think Universities should allow a person, regardless of background, to focus on and specialize in their chosen field. As an employer I should be confident in hiring a recent grad knowing that they knowledge they have represents the pinnacle of education in that field.

The reality is, as an employer, I know that hiring a recent grad means that they know squat about their chosen field... unless it's a physics degree. If it's comp sci I know I need to spend at least a year "deprogramming" them because what they believe they "know" is simply wrong. If it's accounting or business related I have a slightly higher opinion, but still it's bad. Instead of learning what the current laws and regulatory environment is, they spend a lot of time on "humanities" bs.

My wife graduated with a Masters in English; complete waste of paper. Even as a Magna Cum Laude grad she couldn't get a job writing and moved on to a completely unrelated profession. My brother is currently working on his Doctorate in Comp Sci; another waste of paper. Why? well, maybe it's because the crap they are trying to teach him is either well solved ground or stuck on words like "NP Hard". Which simply doesn't matter. Me? Well, I quit college after a year and run my own software company while employing 50 people.

Yes, I realize the type of argument I'm making. I also realize that as a society we have enough information available to predict the types of jobs we need fulfilled in the future. We also have enough information to be able to identify the various environments people will excel in as well as match them to those environments. Finally, we just need to get rid of our current "educators" and put in people who understand what it takes to teach a child math and language skills. There should never be a debate on the news as to whether we should be teaching "intelligent design" or "evolution" in a K-12 environment: answer: Neither, teach them to read instead!

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Creativity, logic, critical thinking

I'm guessing Willard doesn't value these in children.

To learn to communicate your vision, clearly and correctly to a computer, in any programming language means learning all the above in a very concentrated focussed way. You've to argue your way through, foresee-logically- the future and account for problems.

In the process tapping into maths, linguistics and a variety of other skills. This is ignoring the possibility of team work in a complex project.

I'm guessing that for Willard, there aren't many industries and activities that would also benefit from this?

If I had kids, I want them coding just after they read or add up; not because they should be programmers, no more than readers become authors by default, but because the skills it teaches are becoming very necessary, very human and very useful outside the computer.

A fact that anyone with a bit more sense than this fellow quickly sees.

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work is only a tiny bit of most lives.

I would prefer our educators prioritised philosophy over coding.

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Vic
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> I would prefer our educators prioritised philosophy over coding

The two are essentially identical.

A friend of mine at University studied Philosophy, and we all took the piss mercilessly.

Then she walked into a coding job at Hoskins on essentially the same money I was earning - Philosophy teaches exactly the same logical reasoning, it just doesn't teach the syntax of computer languages.

And language syntax is trivial[1] - it's the analysis that makes the job.

Vic.

[1] Intercal excepted, natch...

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hello...

Well when I was in primary school in the 80s I remember using Logo and floor turtles which started with simple steps and then proceeded to loops and sub procedures, also using some electronics control systems to make traffic lights and light houses - again that had loops and conditionals in it,

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Coding: 'suitable for exceptionally dull weirdos'

The funniest offer I got was when one of my cousins suggested that I act as his unpaid system architect and project manager, overseeing and directing a team of indian/chinese outsourced developers who would develop his "travel website".

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Anonymous Coward

Practically educational

Yes, coding is a niche interest, as with any skill.

Someone enjoys doing something that lots of others don't then later gets paid for those abilities gained.

Personally I believe education in purely academic pursuits are pointless, less you need somewhere to keep your spawn out of trouble for X amount of years while they study.

Perhaps pragmatic qualifications should be worth more than academic?

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