The leaders of three tech giants – including Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Timothy D. Cook of Apple – discussed how students in public schools could benefit from learning computer programming. Are we going to see new school subjects any time soon?
According to Timothy D. Cook, coding should be one of the must-have subjects and he is not alone in this – a non-profit group Code.org also supports this idea. The group was founded in 2012 with a goal to make every public school teach coding.
According to the executives of the Code.org, coding is essential for students, just like writing and math. They say coding is something modern children have to learn because it is essential to modern companies who rely on foreign engineers. And with Mr. Trump’s efforts to prevent immigration, the importance of coding is even higher.
Code.org strives to make education policy changes which made the group one of the prototypes for Silicon Valley education reform. However, some people think that Silicon Valley serves its own needs rather than doing what’s best for students. For example, some people believe they push coding so much because they need trained engineers for themselves.
Code.org says that they want to give American students the chance to develop computer science skills. However, they also say that there really is self-interest. The group states that it’s really hard to find skillful engineers in America and it’s even harder to retain them.
Code.org is just one example of a tendency to add coding and computer classes to American primary and secondary schools. For example, Apple launched a free app Swift Playground which teaches the basic coding principles of Swift programming language. They also came up with a new curriculum for schools to teach Swift.
New School Objects Raised Controversy
Microsoft partnered with Code.org to push the coding course in Idaho. Among other things, some schools now will teach computer programming languages that tech giants need. This controversial decision brought in new discussions. For example, people say that corporations shouldn’t decide the content of public education. Therefore, the courses that are driven by industry needs are not welcomed by everyone.
Microsoft executives stated that even though their needs affect public education, it shouldn’t be grounded on the interests of an industry. But Coding.org executives are ready to take more extreme measures saying that coding courses should count toward foreign-language credits.
Idaho is one of the first to develop a new school program with coding courses. Students there will study Java, which is one of the most popular coding languages. Local tech companies were invited to schools to help develop new computer science standards for schools.
One of the executive directors of Idaho STEM Action Center which pushes the new education program says that tech giants will never drive the education system forward and we should see them as collaborative partners and supporters.
The list of subjects is still debatable. For example, the importance of data science may not get enough attention even though it is also important in the modern world. There are also debates on how to prepare students and parents for new subjects. Besides, some people believe that it’s better to add computer science to existing subjects such as math instead of decreasing the importance of other subjects (for example, foreign languages).
Microsoft executives said that parents shouldn’t worry and tech giants simply want to help overlooked subjects get a place in student schedules. They wanted to raise conversations about the importance of coding and computer science and they achieved it. There are still a lot of things that should be cleared out before new subjects will be added to public schools in the country.