American students are not learning how to write computer code, at least not at the rate that is typical in other countries such as India and China. This is extremely bad news for the U.S. economy over the long term; we are not teaching enough computer coders to fill existing jobs, much less future jobs. And more to the point, this is where the well-paying middle and upper middle class jobs will be, not in the dreadful “service economy.” How many baristas with Master’s degrees do we need? Walmart greeters? Uber drivers?
I chalk it up to what I call the “American Idol Syndrome.” Seems like kids all want to be rock stars or sports stars or movie stars. What we need is a reality TV program called “American Coder” or “So You Think You Can Hack” that feature the coding exploits of teens and young adults. Let’s bring back “Robot Wars.” Think of the possibilities with drones!!
I can’t see why this would not be a hugely successful program, combining elements of the shows above with something like “Shark Tank.” Look at at the wildly successful nerd shows on TV these days, Big Bang Theory, Scorpion, etc. We are finally at a place where geeks are the new cool. So let’s take it to a level where we can promote this idea to our young students.
Below are three articles that speak to different parts of the problem. Peter Herzog takes a look at the legal issues that demonize and criminalize coding and hacking, and he points to the example of the Ahmed Mohammed, the kid who brought a clock to school but was arrested because his teachers thought it was a bomb.
Peter is also involved with the incredible Hacker Highschool project.
ReadWrite looks at how the school system is failing to teach coding and where this gap is being met by other organizations and the private sector.
The Silicon Valley article talks about the efforts of Code.org and it’s Hour of Code program. Those of us who work in technology need to step up and get involved. If you want to get involved, I have provided links to the Hacker Highschool and Code.org websites.
- Peter Herzog, ISECOM “Why Johnnie Can’t Hack”
- SilliconValley.com – Apple, others get in on Hour of Code
- ReadWrite.com – Schools aren’t teaching kids to code
- Hacker Highschool
- Code.org – Promote Computer Science