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Tag: tim cook

Conversational Code

You won’t find Swift anywhere on that map.

Speaking of computer science for all (as in a post from last week), Apple CEO Tim Cook was visiting a college in the UK to promote the company’s Everyone Can Code curriculum. The UK Guardian was one of the news organizations that covered Cook’s stop, as they might for a visiting rock star.

Although the headline (“Apple’s Tim Cook: ‘I don’t want my nephew on a social network’”) hints that the article will focus on the newly-discovered issue of tech overuse, most of it is a largely flattering profile of Cook. Plus some information about the financial and tax problems Apple is facing in both Europe and the US.

But buried in the small section about whether everyone should learning programming, we find this idea from Cook.

I think if you had to make a choice, it’s more important to learn coding than a foreign language. I know people who disagree with me on that. But coding is a global language; it’s the way you can converse with 7 billion people.

I’m one who would disagree.

Coding is largely a global standard, but it is not a language for communications. Learning to code does not help students understand the world outside their borders and offers no insight into another culture. It is not more important than learning a conversational language that is not their own.

If a school was, for some reason, forced to make a choice between the two, their students would be far better off in a Spanish or Chinese language course than they would be learning to code.

Planning Your Life

In an interview at his alma mater, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about an assignment from an MBA course in which he wrote a plan for his next 25 years. It turns out his predictive skills were rather poor since “the plan was ‘reasonably accurate’ for 18 to 24 months after it was written”.

He told the students in the audience that the lesson he’s learned over time was that “the journey was not predictable, at all” and that “the only thing I believe you can do is prepare”.

The world is going to change many times, the environment’s going to change many times, the companies you work for are going to ebb and flow, you may wind up in the same company, you may not, you may wind up in the same career, you may not, you may wind up with the spouse you’re married to now, you may not.

A quarter century ago, someone who became a very successful business leader was unable to anticipate his life path more than two years out.

The world, both business and otherwise, moves much, much faster now of course.  However, we continue to operate our educational system as if we are completely sure of the knowledge and skills our students will need four to eight years down the line.

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