The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, October 02, 2015

With infinite resources one can even make pigs fly. It's still not a good idea.

Well the good news is that the test scores of New York City public-school students are up this year from last. The bad news is that still barely a third of them passed math or reading tests.

And that’s despite the fact that a number of teachers have been accused of tampering with test scores.

So what should we do? Teach everyone computer science!

Via Instapundit, The folly of teaching computer science to high school kids | New York Post

Strange as it may appear, I agree that teaching computer science to high school students is folly. Computers are (still) expensive (compared to books, paper, pens and pencils) and fragile. There's too much to fully understand (even I, who have been using computers for something like thirty years, still can't troubleshoot a Microsoft Windows issue, much to the dismay of my father who occasionally asks) and much of what is hot now goes out of fashion in a few years (over the past thirty years, I've seen the rise and fall of both Java and Perl, and Microsoft go from a juggernaut controlling the industry to a now mostly irrelevant bank with a quaint hobby in software, for example).

While I was in college, I saw the the first programming language taught in the computer science department change no less than three times! Back in high school, I took the programming course in Pascal (which is pretty much a dead language these days) on an obsolete computer (the Apple II back in the late 80s) and I was lucky in that I was able to use the only computer with two floppy drives! (which meant I could compile my code nearly twice as fast as other people in the class). And I can count on one finger the number of people who went on in life as a programmer.

And the sad thing is, computer science doesn't need computers to be taught. It's mostly math-centric theory. It's software engineering that requires the use of computers. Teaching “programming” is going to be expensive if you want to include all students. And I'm not alone in this view (link via Reddit).

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