[Edu-sig] Programming in High School

Andy Judkis ajudkis at verizon.net
Tue Dec 9 04:47:28 CET 2008

Well, I'm a high school teacher, and today we started to learn about 
programming in my 10th grade "Principles of Computer Technology" class.  
I tell them that we do it because it's a good intellectual skill to 
develop, it builds their problem solving and critical thinking 
abilities, it's fun, and they might be able to use it someday.  We start 
off with RUR-PLE, which I've been using with great success for several 
years now.

I don't try to turn them into programmers --  I just try to diminish 
their utter clueless about how programming works, and give them a sense 
of the possibilities.  I would like the handful who might want to pursue 
it to have a good first exposure to it, of course.   I'm always hoping 
that someone will really take to it, and come back and show me cool 
things that they've done on their own, but so far (four years now, about 
300 kids) it hasn't happened once.

I really do worry about the world that these kids are going into, and 
what kinds of opportunities they're going to have.  As Guido implies, 
the really sharp ones will thrive, but what about the rest of them/us?  
My best advice to them is to stay out of debt, and not expect to be as 
wealthy as their parents.  I hope that they can find something that they 
care about to do for a living, and that that will be enough.  
Demographics, deficits, and environmental concerns are just going to 
make their lives tougher.  Their real problems are not going to be 
solved because they learned Python instead of Java.

- Andy

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