back to article Big Tech bosses call for computer science to be taught in all US schools

Leaders at hundreds of top US tech companies, universities, and non-profits have called for computer science to be taught to kids in American schools. The CEOs of Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, and more signed a letter urging for governors and education leaders to introduce computer science lessons to all K-12 …

  1. IceC0ld

    naïvely, I would have hoped we would already be teaching this as a basic subject, along with the three R's Reading Writing Arithmetic

    but no, we have PC's EVERYWHERE today, they are a part of everything we do and touch, and it still isn't a core subject

    shame on us really :o(

    1. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

      It's easy to say you think so and so should be covered but there are only so many hours available. What do you propose is taken off the syllabus to make space for it? That's a harder question.

      Personally I think it's the "everyone should do everything" attitude that is the root of the problem. Yes, it's a chauvinistic approach but 40/50 years ago the girls did cooking and/or sewing and the boys did metal and/or woodworking. Not the most equal way of doing things but at least it gives the time to develop some practical skills in a more limited scope. If everyone does everything they become purely theoretical desk subjects and no one has any skills in anything.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No, thats just a false choice framed by another troll.

        Everyone that frames this as an impossible time slicing problem is being disingenuous. It is a veiled appeal to inaction and incompetence. We teach a stripped down curriculum, often badly and inefficiently. I work in a school and see this every day.

        Yet somehow, kids who speak the same language in other countries outpace our academic achievement. Somehow, kids who went to the literal same school 30+ years ago got a better math and science education.

        We need to move past our current, largely failed education system. We need to do that incrementally, iteratively, and rapidly. We need to invest the same resources in ourselves and our own future citizens that we need to allow them to succeed(as they used to, and do elsewhere). Instead, we increased class sizes, cut school days, closed campuses, and cut subject matter. We teach to the bottom of classes, and expect teachers to dictate learning materials to students who aren't held to the expectation of completing assigned reading or work before class. And somehow providing individualized instruction or pushing outside traditional school hours seems to be anathema.

        You can't do all that wrong and have good outcomes. Your strongest kids may still succeed, but then they do so in spite of you, not because the rest were weak. As to your intentionally sexist and ignorant gender stereotypes, sell it somewhere else. I have a framed picture of Grace Hopper in my office. I suspect many of the locals here may have more egalitarian views of the role of women in tech and science, as well of a better grasp of the history of computing and mathematics. Feel free to move to Afghanistan if you disagree.

        Society has lost along with each individual that was denied the chance to reach their potential. Few men have made more than a few great discoveries in their lives, and we discourage women doing the same to our loss and our shame.

        1. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

          Re: No, thats just a false choice framed by another troll.

          If you'd bothered to read my post I did say that a gender based subject assignment is far from preferable, I did point out though that it does have the effect of distributing skills through the society. If everyone ends up with exactly the same skills there are always going to be skills gaps. If you favour a breadth of curriculum you are necessarily restricting the depth. If society and the economy are to have the required skills you want a broad mix of skills across a range of specialisms.

      2. Filippo Silver badge

        I'll try to ignore the sexist attitude, but I'm still somewhat confused by this post. Is the problem the lack of practical skills, or the attempt to teach the same skills to everyone? Those are two unrelated issues, but they seem conflated in this post.

      3. batfink Silver badge

        ...or we could add more hours, like some other countries do.

      4. CrackedNoggin

        What about Billy Elliot?

        No one should be denied the opportunity learn at least a passing knowledge of sewing and cooking basics in their early years. I'll admit to rarely sewing, but basic cooking is essential to consistently nourishing your body and brain with healthy food throughout life. Kids need to know their is an alternative to fast food / junk food.

        Sure time is limited, but kids can be offered a chance to "taste" the alternatives and choose what they want to go into more deeply. I can't see any justification to tell a girl (or a boy) they can't this or that thing that other other kids are allowed (or forced) to do. I more girls or boys choose to do XX than XY, that's not an issue - just no need to force it on them.

        Moreover, nowadays woodworking or metal working would be taught in tandem with CAD, instead of drawing by hand. (Maybe a lesson or two about drawing by hand should be included just to understand the history - I could see that.)

        Probably the bigger problem nowadays is that neither sewing cooking woodworking metalworking nor computers are offered in most schools.

        I liked that film Billy Elliot - despite having zero dancing talent myself.

      5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Personally I think it's the "everyone should do everything" attitude that is the root of the problem. "

        But if "everyone should do everything" is removed, who gets to decide who does what? What if the next Einstein or Hawking gets directed to needlework, arts and crafts instead of science and never finds out they have an aptitude for inventing the first FTL drive?

        Give the youngest the basic, including social skills, the middle group some of everything and the oldest get to choose their areas of special interest. Pretty much how education works across much of the world now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > would have hoped we would already be teaching this as a basic subject,

      It was definitely taught to primary school kids in the 70s. At least the basic stuff was taught in the classroom, like “a computer is anything that has an input, a CPU, and an output. All it does is transform inputs into outputs”. Lots of children would take elective classes on actual programming languages though, usually logo or basic (by that time my dad had already taught me Lisp, which I still use to this day).

  2. CapeCarl

    Don't toss all the older IT folks into /dev/null (Windows users: That means trashcan)

    "The US reportedly has over 700,000 computing-related jobs a year and only 80,000 computer science graduates. The tech industry has to hire high-skilled immigrants to fill these positions. If more people from the country can code, it'll keep the US more nationally competitive."

    Perhaps if the USA "recycled" older IT personnel into 2nd tier, but still required/useful positions, said country wouldn't have this supposedly perennial issue...Everyone wants the shinny new CS grads one day post-graduation (jobs prospects seem to gradually degrade decade-by-decade after that).

    I worked in financial IT until age 64 // then couldn't even find a tech support position. Hmmm. But yeah, I lasted a lot longer in IT than most

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ageism sucks

      and we should invest in lifetime learning for anyone who is willing to put the work in. We shouldn't just be relegating the IT old timers to 2nd string positions. We should be training non-IT retirees that need income to re-enter the workforce. Plenty of people that hung up their spurs because their main career wasn't suited to older folks. I can probably teach a HVAC installer to do 75% of our help desk stuff from their den, and never have to lift a 450lb AC core on a roof in triple digit heat. Win win as far as I am concerned.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Ageism sucks

        I’m semi retired years ahead of retirement and I’m not really interested in working. And I’m hoping when I get to my 50s and 60s I’ll be fully retired. There’s no way I’d be interested in going back into shitty employment environments.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Don't toss all the older IT folks into /dev/null (Windows users: That means trashcan)

      And how many of these 700,000 jobs are actually the "must teach kids to code" jobs? The majority of "tech jobs" are today's version of refilling Victorian office ink wells and sharpening the pencils.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Don't toss all the older IT folks into /dev/null (Windows users: That means trashcan)

      "Everyone wants the shinny new CS grads"

      I wonder how many of those 700,000 jobs annually actually need CS grads and not just people who can be taught on the job? Many people get university degrees and then use the fact of just having a degree to then go into a different field entirely. Do the applicants need a CS degree or just "a" degree. Or even a degree at all?

  3. doublelayer Silver badge

    Start with IT skills

    I'm all for introducing students to coding, and I think we have some good ways to do it, but if they think only about writing programs, they'll miss what the true basics are. Before you can write a good program, you have to have some better understanding of the systems you're interacting with, and for those who don't want to write code after all, those skills are very transferable. Students should have more understanding of how the systems they use are running, the ways to modify them, and the risks they bring with them. If we make sure they have a good basis in this, they'll also end up writing better code.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you can teach programming to elementary school students

      We waste years of kids learning time because their teachers don't grasp basic math, logic and programming concepts. A 2nd grader doesn't know that variables aren't basic arithmetic. They won't be ready for algebra or calculus for years, but they can handle the concepts it's build on. Same for boolean logic, elementary set theory, etc. So you throw out actual code for a few more grades, and teach them to break down tasks into a series of logical steps.

      Instead we put that stuff off for years, and wonder why so many students struggle with the transition to more advanced math. Because their their teachers thought math was arithmetic, and that's what they teach. I've taught basic programming, and tutored it. The students that struggle the most are the ones who were never exposed to the basic logical concepts before hand, and end up starting their freshman year, a decade behind their peers in other parts of the world.

      The last key to this is teaching teachers. Believe me, it's harder than you think. To many of them actively resist anything that isn't packaged as an academic conference, and loaded with the latest buzzwords. But at least with tech they are receptive towards pre-packaged material in the lower graded, so if the industry can package something digestible, it may be easier to push.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: you can teach programming to elementary school students

        We were taught set union, set intersection, the null set, etc. via Venn diagrams when I was in public school first grade. I didn't see it again until I was a college freshman learning Pascal. I was appalled when I saw some of the other students didn't "get" it, but they weren't stupid, they probably just weren't taught it before.

        There is too much "trendism" both in education, computer science, and computer programming.

    2. Shuki26

      Re: Start with IT skills

      Exactly! Studying computer science should not only be about coding languages.

  4. Oliver Knill

    computer science and math

    The cynics among us always interpret such efforts as a mechanism to bring down the wages in the tech industry. On a more serious side the question is, what should young students be taught? They already know how to use computers or smart phones, many of them are better in basic computer skills, playing games, trouble shooting stuff. Kids are usually much faster and smarter about such things because they treat trouble shooting tasks as a game. The next level of ``computer science" is probably to learn how to make a powerpoint presentation or to build a website or a youtube video. All these things have over the years become easier and easier. There are no real computer science skills needed for such basic things. Computer science really starts with learning about logic, about processes, data structures, geometry, algebra (most programs use variables which can take numerical values like in algebra) etc. Most of it is some sort of math. In order to be able to program effectively, you need to be able to think mathematically. Effective programs are written by minds who have learned how to think analytically. I hope these Tech bosses do not hope that schools over the country teach how to copy paste already written code. A much more reasonable and constructive call is to improve and value more math education. Of course this can and should include elements of computer science.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Math alone isn't a fix

      It's the problem that CS has been trying to get out from under for 50 years :)

      You can and need to teach math, science, and foundational logic together. Not as separate subjects, and not just as a history lesson. Logic and math are a "how" and science is a "what" and a "why". Couple that with a focus on problem solving and you get better traction. Kids will absorb a little dry math and science history at a time, but then their eyes glaze over.

      Show them a shitty robot they can program, you can hold their attention a little longer. Just having a computer isn't novel anymore, but the same ideas work. How many old timers still remember LOGO? Now we have Sphero's, Minecraft, and a dozen other things. The trick is to un-buzzword them and un-gamify them and make sure there is a kernel of real learning there. That takes teaching the teachers though.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: computer science and math

      THAT'S. NOT. COMPUTER. SCIENCE. That's the 21st century version of just plain bog standard functional literacy. The equivalent of 19th century kids being able to drag a pen across a sheet of paper and make words come out.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: computer science and math

        I agree :-)

        People are describing what I would call "Computer Studies", or a more generic and all encompassing understanding of modern technology, how it works, how to use it and the basics of programming/scripting, ie user level stuff, the "reading/'riting/'rithmetic" of computing. Computer Science sounds a lot more off-putting to younger kids and has overtones of "nerds" at early teen school levels and, to me at least, is a maths and science heavy subject suited more for later specialism at a more mature age of 16/18+

        I remember learning how to solve quadratic equations at school. It was part of maths, not a major component and I don't think I've ever had a use for that knowledge in the 40+ years since I learned it. At this stage of my life, I remember the term. I *might* recognise one if I saw it written down. School level education is full of stuff like that because one never knows who will be inspired, who will find it useful, who will go onto a career because they learned it. But most of us will "forget" much of what we learned at school simply through never ever needing to know about it in practical terms for the rest of our lives, never knowing if one day, just being aware that "it" exists might be useful and we can then look it up and refresh if needed.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: computer science and math

      There's more to good computer science than just the mathematics. Those are very important and improvements to teaching them are welcome, but you need more. In fact, early programming probably requires more non-mathematical skills. Students getting into programming start by writing relatively simple programs. How often, when you're writing a simple program, does it have a lot of complex calculations in it when that's not the point? My guess is that your simple programs look like most others; they use relatively simple code to perform tasks automatically and have a lot more code related to obtaining information or performing actions rather than a data processing algorithm.

      That's useful in teaching for a few reasons. The first is that it allows the students to do something usable. For those who aren't already interested in the subject, it's more helpful if you can demonstrate why people write programs rather than giving them the impression that it's just a big calculator. Second, it provides them more useful skills. If someone doesn't go into further study, they would be better off with understanding that allows them to script some commands and process results rather than the knowledge to write an efficient sort, but not get the information to sort. And third, it teaches them a thing which is crucial in programming. A person who can make a perfectly efficient algorithm but doesn't understand how the OS works doesn't write good programs, and they have to either partner with someone who does or learn it.

      Teaching that will require slightly different approaches. Instead of building up from the components as suggested later in the comments (for instance starting with boolean logic and how you can change binary values into related ones), you start top down with the structures that already exist (what a file is, how it works, how you can perform operations on it, and eventually how it was implemented). We wouldn't teach woodworking by starting with the tree cell structure, nor would we request that everyone spend a year learning about the different kinds of timber and their uses before they nail together a box.

  5. DS999 Silver badge

    Don't teach them how to program!

    That's not something every kid needs to learn. What every kid should learn in some very basic terms is HOW a computer works at the low level, so they understand it isn't magic. You don't have to teach them what a semiconductor is, but you can explain AND/OR/NOT type logic and how computers are built out of those tiny building blocks into something able to add 2+2, and that if you scale that up and up you get something able to execute programs of unlimited complexity.

    The ones who take to it and want to learn program can take that as an elective. We are much better off having kids who understand that a computer is a machine built out of very simple parts, that can do what they do because we are able to put together an unimaginable number of those simple parts rather having every kid able to write simple programs but having them believe the machine has elves and fairies inside it.

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Re: Don't teach them how to program!

      When I learned BASIC in high school, the curriculum in that class included simple Boolean logic and simple high-level computer architecture. The booklet we used was written by DEC and was great.

    2. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: Don't teach them how to program!

      @DS999 “but you can explain AND/OR/NOT type logic and how computers are built”

      Surely schools do that today. They did when I was at school well not computers this was before electronic pocket calculators. At 12 we did binary which led to Boolean logic in Maths. We also covered AND/OR/NOT gates in Science at around the same time.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Don't teach them how to program!

        I would bet your school system was the exception rather than the rule. I think I vaguely recall some mention of other bases in junior high or school high, and binary was surely included in that, but I don't recall any mention binary specific operations let alone their application to computers.

        Though I guess it is possible that was taught and I simply wasn't paying attention because I already knew it, as I became interested in computers around the 7th grade.

        1. Falmari Silver badge

          Re: Don't teach them how to program!

          @DS999 Not sure it was the exception at the time in the UK, the school was just a large south london comprehensive. Also nothing to do with computers more to to do with electronics as part of physics. Same as learning how TVs worked cathode ray tube and such like.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Don't teach them how to program!

            "the school was just a large south london comprehensive."

            Considering when comprehensive schools where invented, it must have been right on the cusp of calculators being easily available. My LEA switched from secondary/grammar to comprehensive the year I started secondary education and I had saved up and bought my own calculator by age 12 or 13. I also did GCE O level Computer Studies starting in 4th form and was in the first or possibly second year the course even existed. Since the school year ahead of me was still Grammar school, the whole ethos of the school was still based around that so few other schools in the area did CS.

            1. Falmari Silver badge

              Re: Don't teach them how to program!

              @"John Brown (no body) Considering when comprehensive schools where invented, it must have been right on the cusp of calculators being easily available."

              Yes 1970 would be right on the cusp, when I started comprehensive you could still leave school at 15 (changed about a year later).

              BTW the first comprehensive school was 1946, but it was 1965 when Labour tried to abolish grammar schools

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Don't teach them how to program!

                "BTW the first comprehensive school was 1946, but it was 1965 when Labour tried to abolish grammar schools"

                That early? Wow, I had no idea. I knew it was a phased thing over years by various LEAs, but had no idea it went back that far.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just an advert for those cr*ppy teaching tutorials

    What they are actually saying is "buy our stuff" - which is usually some kind of drag-and-drop visual workflow thing. Mostly kids will use these for two weeks before realising it's a pile of doodoo.

    I'm actually a believer that any subject is worth teaching... if it is set at a suitably deep level. Yes: even Media Studies or Cookery could be educational topics, if the subject isn't watered down to homeopathic levels.

    ...but teaching Computer Science isn't what is being proposed here. There will be no Filesystem, Networking, Task scheduling discussions. It'll be "make a cartoon character walk backwards and forwards using the tutorial from code.org".

  7. LDS Silver badge

    So why they send their children to school that don't?

    I've seen many reports that the Big Tech overlords sends their children to schools that keep them away from the same products they sell. Maybe because they know how much they are designed to brainwash people and keep them addicted?

    I'm not meaning CS should not be taught at school - but it shouldn't be taught using the products designed to create generations of consumer drones.

  8. trevorde Silver badge

    We need more graduates!

    Salary up to $25k USD

    No holidays

    60 hr week

    No health insurance

    No pension

    Impossible performance targets

    Early professional hires only

    Yours sincerely

    IBM

  9. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Halfway through first sentence, thinks: Define "computer science".

    Second sentence: "should be given the opportunity to learn how to code"

    THAT'S NOT COMPUTER SCIENCE!

    jeez. talk about self-demonstrating article.

  10. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "puzzle pieces or Legos"

    Is that like Argos?

  11. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "Learning how to program could help prepare students for a future dominated by computers"

    Here we go, I was just waiting for this to crop up.

    "Learning automotive engineering could help prepare students for a future dominated by road transport".

    NO"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You do not need to know how to build an engine in order to be able to catch a ****ing bus.

    "Learning how to build a typewriter could help students prepare for a future dominated by having to be able to read and write"

    "Learning electromechanical engineering could help students prepare for a future where we have these fantastic new things called ELECTRIC LIGHTS!!!111!!!" Because of course people are too thick to work out how to use a ****ing light switch without being trained as electrical engineers.

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Especially if you teach them automotive engineering, but not how to actually drive a car in traffic. I can easily see a new crop of people who can bang together something that spits out a Fibonacci series in Javascript, but still can't troubleshoot a failed Windows Update.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      No but teaching them a little about how computers work might be important when a politician stands up and says that 'the algorithms' will predict all crime and do sentencing without any errors.

      You don't have to teach advanced microbiology to teach people how diseases spread and that antibiotics or horse dewormer dont kill viruses

  12. batfink Silver badge

    Let's start here

    Let's start with the concept of algorithms, shall we? Those are pretty universally applicable for problem-solving in any field.

    Once we've got past that, THEN we might start looking at coding.

    Remember the old adage: Months of coding can save days of planning.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Let's start here

      Start them with algorithms and lose them before you even get half way through.

      Start them with making something happen with code and they are engaged and interested.

  13. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "the opportunity to learn how to code as early as elementary school"

    Learning how to code may be a good idea - particularly if the training emphasises quality and security, but it's not computer science.

    Computer science consists of the history of how the technologies evolve and the fundamental principles that that underpin the development of computing mechanisms and their application to problem solving. Coding in a current language (and these days using opaque proprietary libraries) is just a minute part of that.

    Training in coding results at best in competent programmers. Training in computer science yields those who will design future generations of technologies that work effectively and reliably.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dark Satanic Mills are back!

    Way back in the mists of time, back in the 1700s, a lot of politicians questioned why we should bother educating the working class to be able to read and write. They're just a bunch of shop floor monkeys pushing levers, they don't need an education.

    It was lobbying by the owners of the Dark Satanic Mills they ensured kids got a very basic educaiton at Sunday school once a week so by 14 they could at least read and write, these Sunday often sponsored by local mill owners. Smart kids got apprenticehships to do more techincal work and some even got trained in office work. The mill owners realised that a workforce with even a basic education was a very valuable asset, so paying out for some basic books, chalk and boards was nothing compared to the fact that your factory workers would be more more productive than the mill owner down the road!

    Fast forward 300 years and here we are, today's bit barn Satanic Mill owners need smart, savvy people to get them ingrained in their tech. More people understand cloud tech they'll be the ones singing the praises of Google, Amazon, MS or whomever and pushing to use their tech over the other mob up the road.

    We're working class, we're here to be exploited and hopefully a few well paid crumbs off the table might allow us to stop work before we drop dead on the factory floors.

  15. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Holmes

    Aptitude?

    I am all for teaching problem solving skills but different people approach it differently - one size does not fit all.

    That brings the question of aptitude into this mix; given that logical problem solving typically requires a particular type of mindset, are we going to saddle some children with a subject they will come to detest?

    Case in point: when I was much younger (and dinosaurs roamed the earth) the teacher we had for logarithms (never forget it) went on about the exponent and the mantissa endlessly as if it was the answer to life, the universe and everything. While those are indeed both part of the notation it failed to get to the point or actually explain what a logarithm actually is. It didn't help that the teacher had a very strong Spanish accent (I have no problem with the Spanish but a dialect closer to the target audience is usually better). Totally put me off the subject.

    Once I decided to look at it again because so many of the things I was being taught in avionics had logarithms, I looked closely and realised that logarithms can be defined in a way that takes one line:

    If x = log(base a)y, then a^^x = y. The elegance of that appeals to me, incidentally.

    There is an important part here; not everyone learns the same way or at the same rate so a 'standardised' approach is going to be a nightmare (as our education system already is) with two groups getting to detest the lessons:

    1. The ones who pick things up very quickly. They will be bored o tears.

    2. The ones who require at least 10 iterations to grasp a concept. They will find it such heavy going that they may just give up on it.

    Having taught post secondary for some years, I can assure you that those groups exist, to a larger or lesser extent in every class.

    Apart from the base problem solving, this should be an elective.

  16. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Thanks for nothing, Big Tech

    How about advocating for adequate pay for teachers? Adequate school facilities? More appropriate school scheduling (longer school year, break up the long summer vacation, start the school day later for high school...)? How about offering to help pay for some of that? Rather that just MOAR SERFS?

    And, of course, Big Tech are decades behind people who actually do pedagogical research in this area. Jeanette Wing's influential CACM piece on Computational Thinking and education was "only" 16 years ago, but Papert coined the term in 1980, to categorize ideas that were already well-established in pedagogical circles. And CT is only one flavor of the month in this area.

    This is Yet Another example of tech executives showing off their Dunning-Kruger belief that success means they know everything, and their opinions are golden.

  17. nautica Bronze badge
    Boffin

    The big tech firms leaders are unqualified to pontificate on what's needed in education.

    From one of the best---

    "Besides a mathematical inclination, an exceptionally good mastery of one's native tongue is the most vital asset of a competent programmer."---Edsger Dijkstra

    ...seems to me that Edsger Djikstra, one of the pre-eminent computer scientists of our times, was arguing for a good grounding in readin', writin', and 'rithmetic---something that is sorely lacking in the 'educational system' of the US.---as THE basics for good programmers, and nothing else.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: The big tech firms leaders are unqualified to pontificate on what's needed in education.

      It's a bit ironic that you've misread what the quote you used means:

      "seems to me that Edsger Djikstra [...] was arguing for a good grounding in readin', writin', and 'rithmetic [...] as THE basics for good programmers, and nothing else."

      No, he said "most vital". Most vital does not mean nothing else. In fact it specifically implies something else, but not quite as important. If he meant nothing else, he would say "only vital", or since this was the most vital after mathematics, perhaps "only other". Proper use of language is very important, but you can't be good at programming just by being good at writing, and I'm sure he knew that.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The big tech firms leaders are unqualified to pontificate on what's needed in education.

        "Proper use of language is very important, but you can't be good at programming just by being good at writing, and I'm sure he knew that."

        Oh, I dunno. Writing a COBOL program can be a bit like writing a long-winded novel :-)

        1. nautica Bronze badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: The big tech firms leaders are unqualified to pontificate on what's needed in education.

          "...Oh, I dunno. Writing a COBOL program can be a bit like writing a long-winded novel..."

          A very well-paying long-winded novel.

          Just keep on NOT writing COBOL. Thanks very much.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can we please start with teaching them principles, NOT Microsoft?

    I hve no objection against adding the basics of computer use, but that should then be COMPUTER use, not MICROSOFT use.

    We increased productivity for most staff by simply teaching them that contents comes first, styling second, and styling is done using styles, not local formatting other than the odd emphasis. As a result, people can apply this to MS Office, but also to LibreOffice, and if we find a way to end the dependency on Excel of some users (which may happen as a result of more stringent audit demands which countermand complexity) we may be able to lose Microsoft products alltogether (yes, we ditched Outllook already :) ).

    As for Excel, most people do basic things and for that LO is fine (although we have a few people swearing at SQL integration, haven't heard why yet) but some functionality just does not exist. Yet.

    Skipping Office suites altogether, the first thing we teach staff about UIs is that they are an on screen metaphore of a desk, AND NO DESK EVER HAD SHEETS OF PAPER ON IT OF THE SIZE OF A DESK, so thank you Microsoft for defaulting to &^$% full screen for every first start of any application, ever. It creates bad habits, and I have no idea why they even do this (maybe to camouflage the loss of screen real estate with the ribbon?).

    Anyway, really start with the basics and keep it open. If you want to see what happens when you divert from established standards, just look at how much work the average web desgner has to waste accomodating for every browser out there instead of sticking to standards that work for everyone..

  19. Luke61

    The idea of teaching coding in every school in the U.S. is ludicrous without screening for the human material in those schools. I have taught in public schools in the U.S. in the past year, so know what I'm talking about.

    Most public schools are now effectively alternative schools, with over-110 IQ students rare, dispersed, and beaten down for the most part. If a high school doesn't offer multiple science and math AP classes, you know it's not one where there is any point to teaching coding.

    Go read Christopher Jackson's essay on what it's like to teach in inner-city schools, or the book "Bad Students Not Bad Schools" by Robert Weissberg if you have no idea just how bad it is there now.

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