Do you think anybody can be a programmer and do you think it should be taught in elementary school?

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My understanding of tiers in the UK education system is Primary education, Secondary education and Further education (Primary and secondary are mandatory).

Primary is from 4 to 11 years of age, split into infant school and junior school (at least it was when I was there).

Secondary school is from 11 to 16. In the first three years you are exposed to the basics of a lot of subjects before you focus on what you want to do in life.

Now to me, the use of computers forms quite a fundamental part of many subjects and should be part of the skill set you gain prior to secondary school. A small part should be showing/allowing the children to get the box to do interesting things.

All I know is my dad introduced me to computers when I was 11 and I wish that it could have been sooner (computers in my secondary school were few and far between at the time).
The grade ranges are different depending on school corporations, for example, here elementary is K-5, middle is 6-8, high school is 9-12. Also, it depends on how the school board decides to do it, but I believe a lot of boards have it set so one teacher does Math, Geography, History, English, etc. Then you have to go to a separate teacher for gym, music, and art.

So yeah, any school would require a teacher, a separate teacher to teach programming to kids, but problem is that most public school corporation (due to either money or just laziness) won't bother paying a teacher with that kind of credentials. After all, when I learned BASIC it was part of my keyboarding class where they basically gave you the code on paper and had you type it in, but for the most part (due to how simple BASIC was) you were left to your own to figure it out and play with it.

You also have to think that most programming tutorials and books say you need to program nightly for about 2 hours. How often do you think a kid (ages 5-11, guessing) would actually spend 2 hours programming when they would most likely equate it to math (due to problem solving) and too many kids at that point probably don't want to do it.

Last point, like someone said, the students can't be forced to take it (that is why BASIC was removed from out computer courses after my 8th grade years) and if enough don't chose to take it, the school will cut it. It is better off to leave it up to the older students to self teach or prepare for a CS or equivalent degree in college.

[EDIT]: Also like I said, at those age ranges, the attention span for something that involved just isn't there and would be a waste of tax payers money as those of you who pay taxes would be footing the bill, and do you really want to pay for a class that may not be used or even cut after a year or two?
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closed account (3qX21hU5)
I think most people are missing the point totally. Teaching kids about programming is not so that they learn to program. So they wouldn't need to put in insane amounts of time to learn a language fluently. Teaching them about programming is so they learn about logical thinking. Most kids today learn logical thinking from Maths and that is about it. And lets face it when you talk to kids 80% of them will probably hate math.

It is just not as rewarding and most of them think it is a waste of time. If you introduce them to programming they will actually see rewards (Making their own computer programs, the thrill we get from making something from nothing, ect). So I think much more kids would actually have fun in a programming class then taking a math class (Not to be read as get rid of math).

I also assume most people think we would be teaching them hard languages to learn. Which is not true at all for middleschool and highschoolers Python or a language like it would be a perfect fit I think.

And for elementry school you could introduce something like Scratch to them found here http://scratch.mit.edu/ . Scratch would be a perfect choice for teaching kids logical thinking and them having fun doing it.

Some kids won't want to get into programming that is true but atleast they will learn logical skills from it that they can use in their career of choice. Programming doesn't just teach you how to make computer programs it teaches you how to solve problems and think logically which is needed in everything we do.
Zereo wrote:
teaches you how to solve problems and think logically which is needed in everything we do.

You just defined what we are told as to why we learn math from K-10. Yet another reason programming would be a waste of tax payer's money. Also, if you are wanting to teach them to think logically you can just have problem solving courses or analytical courses none of which require programming.
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closed account (3qX21hU5)
We have all kinds of Electives in schools that are a "waste of tax payers money". So I don't think that argument holds much merit. There is options to teach kids "French" or "Latin" so why not have a option to learn about programming? There is classes for "woodworking", "metal working" so why not programming? There is classes for "Fine Arts", "Biology", "Physics", "Chemistry" so why not programming?



You just defined what we are told as to why we learn math from K-10.


How many kids actually like to learn math? Do you think learning about computers and programming might be more interesting to kids to learn? Especially since most kids use and love computers these days? Just because math teaches you about logical thinking and so does programming is no reason not to include it.
One problem, the question was for elementary school. In elementary school you have preset classes and don't get electives like Biology, Chemistry, French, Fine Arts, Latin, Physics, etc until high school. Now if you want to expose them to programming in high school to give them a flavor so they can decide if they want a career in programming that is fine, but if you push the point of the programming elective as that of the math (problem solving and logical thinking) they will immediately think it is a mathematical angle and not want to take it.

Fact is that kids have short attention spans and wouldn't be able to keep the length of attention needed for any kind of programming as you would have to teach them the basics and hope they remember everything during the course.

I'll give you that kids are inquisitive and asks thousands of questions, but it is normally along the lines of "Why did they do this? Why is the sky blue? etc." My nephew is 9 and he loves video games, but he could care less about programming, and the fact that he knows I program subjects me to this sort of questioning:

Minecraft:
Why did they make it blocks?
Why do they tell you not to dig down?
Why did they make it so you can fly in creative and not in survival?

Skyrim:
Why do they make you fight dragons?
Why don't they let you ride them?

LBP:
Why did they make it a sack person?
Why do they make you kill him just to respawn?
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if you are wanting to teach them to think logically you can just have problem solving courses or analytical courses none of which require programming.
Problem solving involves questions in the order of "figure out a way to do X" (i.e. solving problems), not "figure out a way to solve this absurd situation that will never and has never happened under these no less ridiculous constraints" (i.e. solving riddles). When asked to think up problems removed from any practical application, most people will come up with the latter.
I'm not saying these are completely devoid of value; I'm saying that they don't train you to look for rational solutions because the problem statements are irrational. Instead, they train you to look for the loophole, which real problems often don't have.

Now, programming is not the only application of problem solving. For example, EE, mechanical engineering, etc. But it's easily the one with the lowest barrier to entry (the basics of a simple programming language can be taught in a few hours), the safest (depending on the execution environment, the worst case can range from a crash to trashing your system or hosing your data) and cheapest (if your solution has flaws, you haven't lost anything other than the time you spent working on it).
Now since I have a serious mindset I will answer this question seriously.

I don't think elementary children should be taught programming because the subjects they are currently taught have enough mental strain on them, adding programming would make the situation worse and all their grades would be worse.

Trust me sometimes when my math teacher brings up variables I sometimes ask if I should initialize them or not, and sometimes I ask what type they are. Lol.

Programming is always on my mind and sometimes interferes with my studies because all I think of is programming in math and science.
BHXSpecter wrote:
Fact is that kids have short attention spans and wouldn't be able to keep the length of attention needed for any kind of programming as you would have to teach them the basics and hope they remember everything during the course.
It is a fact some kids have short attention spans, not all, not even most. I don't understand how a programmer can't see the benefits of teaching children programming. Maybe there is a misunderstanding, i wouldn't expect it to be added to standard curriculum, but rather supplemental like art and gym, once or twice a week. I really think you're underestimating kids, I would wager a fairly high percentage of members here got interested in computers or programming because for one reason or another they where exposed to it early on in their youth. I was exposed to BASIC around 7 - 8 years old when a friend got an Atari game system that was also a computer. It came with GW-BASIC and we made programs like
1
2
10 print hello
20 goto 10
unfortunately there wasn't anyone we could ask to explain programming to us (or decipher the manual that came with it) so we were SOL. I think it would help more kids then you think.
@Fredbill30
Do you mind if I ask what grade you're in and what you are studying in math?
7th grade and like geometry and early trig and such. Not anything really hard.

I don't know if I have a brain disorder or anything but I mix French with English and C++ with math and science. I might just be crazy in the head.

It kinda makes sense I mix math with C++ because I'm using geometry in my game and I am learn trig for openGL. (We haven't got that far in that area)

I guess on the upside I have improved logic handling in all classes.

I notice the same thing when switching from Ruby to C++ and vice versa.
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closed account (3qX21hU5)
Look at Scratch http://scratch.mit.edu/about/ . Elementary kids could easily grasp that and learn something from that. It is made for young children to introduce programming to them. To some kids it would open a door to programming and they would get a much earlier start then most, to others that aren't interested in it they would learn logical thinking from it. It could be implemented in a way like naraku described (A once or twice a week thing).

It is hard to deny that our world is moving into a technology era where everything revolves around computers. So shouldn't our youth at least be given the chance to understand crucial skills about them?
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I'm not joking but I am actually serious.

If young children learned program before learning reason wouldn't more hackers be born?
closed account (3qX21hU5)
I'm not joking but I am actually serious.

If young children learned program before learning reason wouldn't more hackers be born?


Then let me ask you this. If something has a possibility be used to do bad things should we just not allow people to use it or not teach it to them?

Just because programming can be used for bad things isn't a justification for not teaching it to people.
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If young children learned program before learning reason wouldn't more hackers be born?
It's amazing how one can manage to butcher both language and logic in such a short sentence.

So you're saying that making someone more educated makes them more likely to engage in criminal activities?
No you guys made me think of it in a different way. Nevermind me.
This is a moot argument anyways as schools are trying to find ways to pay teachers less and getting a qualified teacher for a programming course would require them to actually pay that person more than the regular teachers. Then we get into to teacher unions, and not to mention a person with the credentials to teach such a class would want a college tenure as it would pay way more than the elementary school.
BHXSpecter wrote:
This is a moot argument anyways as schools are trying to find ways to pay teachers less and getting a qualified teacher for a programming course would require them to actually pay that person more than the regular teachers. Then we get into to teacher unions, and not to mention a person with the credentials to teach such a class would want a college tenure as it would pay way more than the elementary school.
I doubt they would need that well a trained programmer, an elementary education major that takes an intro programming course and a seminar in the simple language (BASIC, scratch, etc...) should be enough to guide children that young.
Yes, but again you run into the problem of the teacher would have to want to do it and be interested in it. Most schools don't pay for the teacher to go to seminars unless it is a school function seminar. Yet another way the school tries to short change the teacher.

[EDIT]In high school you run into even more problems, kids actually wanting to sign up for it. We had a teacher start a web publishing class and same teacher started a cartooning and animation class, but student interest only lasted a year or two and they did away with it. The teacher left and went to a rival high school but didn't bother with getting them started there.
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