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+ - Is Java to Blame for Lack of K-12 Programming Classes?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "In December, President Obama, celebrities, politicians and tech companies came together to launch a national coding education push. Code.org's rallying cry that "9 out of 10 schools don't even offer computer programming classes" surprised many, some of whom recalled being taught coding in elementary school in the early '80s. So, why the decreased interest in programming by kids? Interestingly, long before he joined Code.org's Leadership Team, IU Dean Bobby Schnabel co-authored a chapter on Education (pdf) for a 2006 ACM report which fingered Java as a villain: "One final possible explanation has to do with the quality of teaching and the nature of the material that is taught. High school curricula have changed in the last decade to focus on languages (primarily Java) and paradigms (object-oriented programming). The introductory college computing course also typically focuses on teaching the more modern object-oriented style of programming such as Java, in part because students who mastered these tools could readily find employment (at least in the 1990s). However, these tools are somewhat difficult for faculty to teach and students to learn especially compared to tools and skills taught in introductory courses in other science and engineering disciplines. The preparation of high school teachers who are teaching computer science has been an issue for many years, but the complication introduced by these new programming languages has made the quality of instruction even more problematic. Many high schools have eliminated computer science courses perhaps because it is so hard to teach." Along these lines, it should be noted that while Microsoft, Apple, and Google are now crying to Congress that little Johnny can't code, all three dumped their programming-for-the-masses offerings — Steve Jobs deep-sixed Hypercard, Microsoft killed BASIC, and Larry Page abandoned App Inventor. Curiously, the huge PR success enjoyed by the Hour of Code stemmed from a Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg-narrated tutorial that employed Blockly, a programming-for-the-masses project that Neil Fraser brought back from the dead after Google killed it. So, if the tech giants want to get kids programming again, might shipping a usable-by-kids programming language on their devices again be a better strategy than giving $750-$1000 to teachers of Code.org's 20-hour course, or offering $100 to 'every U.S. public high school girl' who completes Codecademy's 15-hour JavaScript curriculum?"
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Is Java to Blame for Lack of K-12 Programming Classes?

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