This week, many schools here in the overly-large school district have been participating to some degree in Hour of Code activities. Nationally we’ve seen lots of media stories around the event1 and tons of traffic on coding related websites.
But what happens next week?
For vast majority of schools and students, this particular exercise will be long forgotten and Hour of Code put back on the shelf until this same time next year. Very few schools will incorporate learning computer programming into their curriculum, especially not in those “core” subjects in which the spring tests are already beginning to loom.
I don’t accept the premise that every student needs to learn how to program a computer, just like everyone will not need Calculus, Chemistry, or even college.
However, every student should graduate from high school with an understanding of how the device in their pocket, the one collecting and transmitting all kinds of personal data, works. Along with basic ideas from mathematics, especially statistics, science, and social studies. Plus good communications skills and an awareness of the real choices they have in life, including college.
So much of our traditional K12 school curriculum is focused on mechanical processes students will quickly forget and on collecting points towards a pass to the next level, not on understanding concepts they can actually use for the rest of their lives.