Interest in K12 coding has experienced a resurgence. Some of you young folks may think you discovered coding as the way to the future, but those of us with more experience know this same trend swept through education 15-20 years ago. I know this happened and wish I better understood why that initial interest failed. This would be useful to understand.
Without disputing that there are some good jobs as programmers and most of us use technology that does rely on code, I keep asking about the priorities we have built into the curriculum. So, if you have your personal vision of the priorities of education, I keep suggesting change is not based only on what you think is important to add. I think it responsible to also suggest what it is that you would delete or downgrade.
In my opinion, one of the more significant barriers to K12 coding has been the inability in most states to determine how coding would count toward graduation requirements. I see a chain of causation here. If you can’t count coding in a significant way toward graduation, how can you justify hiring teachers with appropriate credentials to teach programming? If coding counts in a lesser way, how can smaller districts make a commitment? If there is not a course on the secondary level, how do the limited commitments on the elementary and middle school levels make sense?
The recommendations that would establish programming have typically suggested that a programming course count as a math or science graduation requirement. I have written before about such classifications. It is often called “computer science”, but I do not really see introductory coding in this way. It does seem closer to math to me. My personal preference for changing the math requirement would substitute a course in statistics and research methods as an alternative to the final course in the existing math sequence. The scientific method as taught in most sciences does not explain the use of data as it applies to human behavior. An exploration of the strengths and weakness of other approaches to research and the interpretation through statistics of these data make more sense for the general benefit of future citizens. This is the type of critical thinking we apply daily in interpreting the various claims we encounter.
My personal perspective aside, the ACTM (the math special interest group) has just come out against counting programming to meet existing math requirements. The math folks say programming is good, but beyond prioritizing existing math courses make no suggestions for what area should receive less attention.
So, to those educators and politicians who have discovered programming and want it added, I am kind of with you. However, you seem to be pushing harder for this change than I am. I just want you to get past the easy part of suggesting something should be added. The tough part is to make the decision as to what should be deleted. Of all the possible things schools could do, where does computer science fall within the priority list. Is it before of after languages? Is it before or after physical education and arts? Is it before or after a fourth year of English? Is it before or after advanced placement or dual-enrollment courses? If you are unwilling to offer guidance on such matters, who do you suggest should make these decisions? I could go on, but you get the idea.
Please add a comment and either post your position or link to your own analyses of school priorities. Someone among those promoting change needs to step up and fill in the details. It could be you.