Pop Quiz: Python in the Classroom
*Ha! Not the snake! This whole post is about computer programming.
This past weekend I went to PyOhio the Python programming language conference held in Columbus, Ohio. The conference serves the needs of both beginner and experienced programmers. So there were an array of different types of talks from introductory (“Hello world”) to the more experienced (this is what I do at work) topics. There were several talks that were useful to me and to my husband. I can’t wait to see who will be at next years conference! (Also, if you would like to check out the speakers they should have videos of the talks up at some point.)
One of the neat things about this conference is the young coders portion of the conference. They have a section dedicated to teaching Python programming to kids from ages 12 – 17. The classes are free and they get to take home with them a Raspberry Pi computer kit. That is pretty awesome!! Needless to say the people that run this conference do an excellent job.
So why am I telling you about my weekend? Well, I am not sure exactly how many K-12 schools have actually implemented in their curriculum computer programming training but I think that this is a skill that is very valuable to children. I am not talking about using a computer. Kids know how to use computers. Isn’t it standard issue with the umbilical cord at this point? I am talking about actually learning how to create programs to make the computer do their bidding (cackle, cackle.)
I know kids have so much to learn in school at the moment but really programming serves the function of teaching critical thinking skills, logic, problem solving, and creativity all in one wonderful package. When I was in school Basic was the programming language de rigueur and I did learn it in school. It was an elective at our high school and was not implemented in any other class. However, that was when most homes did not have a computer and the ones that did loved their Atari mostly to play MULE and Space Invaders (sorry husband.)
I really think that programming should be taught at a fundamental level to all children as part of the curriculum of math and science education. It is after all the world they are growing up in and Python is a pretty awesome language to start with. I found a short commentary about someone who taught their kids to program using Python in case you are interested. Actually, I think everyone should learn how to at least program “Hello world.”
Since I do not teach K-12 and have no children in K-12 I have no idea what is going on in the schools regarding the teaching of computer programming. I would really like to know have K-12 public institutions made this a part of the curriculum? Do you think computer programming is beneficial to children? What language would you suggest as a starting point for a child or for an adult?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET).
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