As kids head back to school this fall, which class should they enroll in? French — or programming?
Apple CEO Tim Cook told a company conference this year that computer programming should be taught in schools as a second language.
Others have echoed that view, arguing that programming should be considered a necessary skill for the 21st century, right alongside reading, writing and arithmetic.
In fact, some Canadian kids are learning to code at summer camps, and Grade 6 to 9 students in British Columbia will soon learn coding as a mandatory part of their classes.
Almost every day there is a script or program that I have written that allows me to get work done faster. Even understanding and using services such as IFTTT.com require the knowledge of programming techniques.
For reading and writing, programming has a distinct grammar that needs to be learned, and it is pickier than almost any teacher. Misplacement or misspelling doesn’t cause a hiccup at the error, but the entire program will no longer run.
Math and science use programming to verify and calculate results. While these tasks could also be completed by hand or with a calculator, that opens up issues of errors and a lack of repeatability.