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Coding knowledge should be standard

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Coding knowledge should be standard

Connor Earegood feels strongly that the modern education system should offer basic coding classes.

Connor Earegood feels strongly that the modern education system should offer basic coding classes.

Jenna Robinson

Connor Earegood feels strongly that the modern education system should offer basic coding classes.

Jenna Robinson

Jenna Robinson

Connor Earegood feels strongly that the modern education system should offer basic coding classes.

By Connor Earegood, Kearsley High School in Flint, Michigan

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In the 20th century, classes like wood shop and metal fabrication were standard to the American high school experience.

Students gained a compulsory education in the basic skills that trade jobs — and daily life — required.

As trade knowledge is needed less and less and technology progresses, the shop programs of old have faded.

But what about teaching needed skills to students in the modern age?

Everything we do revolves around technology.

From computers, cars, to even your refrigerator, most items have some sort of digital connection.

But what are schools doing to prepare students for an increasingly tech-driven world?

For many public schools, very little.

Barring institutions of higher socioeconomic stature, schools rarely offer programming classes to high school students, and when they do offer classes, it is sometimes nothing but a credit filler.

Coding is becoming a basic skill, something that many fields require and many employers expect.

Take engineering for example. Almost every university’s freshman course load involves some coding curriculum.

Engineering firms expect their workers to be able to program in common languages like C++, Java, and Python.

If it is the job of schools to prepare students for the workplace and college, we must teach our students programming.

Armstrong Middle School will have its first coding class next year. While this is certainly a great achievement for our district, we need to offer the courses at KHS too.

If we do not, we are letting our graduates go forth wholly unprepared for the modern job market.

If “failure is not an option,” we must teach students how to code, which is a prerequisite skill in many fields.

Any career that involves data analysis — which is all but a few unskilled fields — relies on coding to accomplish feats of mathematics at a speed no calculator can keep up with.

Programming lessons and websites can be found for free online, with a litany of resources to teach students how to make computers run a device.

It would only cost the pay of a teacher and a few textbooks to implement.

In 18th century Britain, at the start of the Industrial Revolution, the common artisan was made obsolete by rapid mechanization.

These laborers — who lived comfortable, middle-class lives before the Revolution — were left starving for work and food as they lacked the skills to operate machines.

In the late 19th century United States, factory jobs were “deskilled” and workers were left to the whims of tycoons.

We can’t leave our generation to such a fate.

Because many workers in those times were too poor to give their children a quality education, public institutions like land-grant colleges and public schools were created to give citizens technological and industrial expertise.

We need our public schools to do so in the modern era, and the first step to that is teaching programming.

Nations in Europe and Asia are making coding a required course for their students.

The United States needs to keep up with these nations before we fall behind in the global marketplace.

The American economy was powerful in the mid-20th century because of its industrial might.

American industry helped the Allies win World War II, supplying more planes, tanks, jeeps, rifles, and even ships than any other nation involved in the war.

If the United States and its citizens are to survive in the modern technology-driven economy, we must, at least, teach basic programming to students.

This story was originally published on The Eclipse on March 8, 2019.

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