“Last week, the Obama administration announced an initiative, in conjunction with philanthropic supporters, to expand computer science education in 60 school districts, primarily at the high school level” (Litan, 2014).
I remember hearing this on the news near the end of December and thinking, finally. I am not a huge fan of politics, the seemingly endless debates and back and forth banter, while glossing over the important issues has always turned me off. This, however, is something from Washington that I finally can agree with.
I feel that there is a preconceived notion that computer science is an innate ability, that requires a certain type of brain in order to learn, similar to the stigma mentioned by Miles Kimball, and Noah Smith on their Quartz article where they mention “the myth of inborn genetic math ability” (Kimball, Smith, 2013).
Well I can say, from personal experience, computer science ability is learnable. My relationship with computer science began the second semester of my sophomore year at the University of Michigan. I had never seen a line of code in my life, but I always liked computers and I was curious to learn more about how they work. I immediately loved it, and now I am finishing up my minor in Computer Science this semester.
Before enrolling in EECS 183 (the first programming class I took, and the one I mentioned above), I had multiple people discouraging me. They would tell me that it is too difficult and that everyone else enrolled in the class already knows how to code. Contrary to popular belief, I was able to learn programming, and excel at it.
Although I am just one person, I am certain with dedication and hard work anyone can learn to program. This is why I am so glad that Obama is pushing computer science education.
“… Our nation has a chronic shortage of good computer programmers. Established companies and start-ups are starving for talent” (Litan, 2014).
“The U.S. concluded its best year of job growth in 15 years last month, with employers adding 2.95 million jobs for all of 2014 and the unemployment rate falling to a postrecession low of 5.6% nationwide” (Sparshott, 2015).
Things seem to be looking up for the United States economy, based on the increasing job growth and lower unemployment mentioned in the quotation above. My worry, however, similar to the worry of Robert Litan mentioned above, is that these new jobs will not be able to find the talent necessary to fill roles that require computer science knowledge. Meaning they will have to either increase on the job training, which would be costly, or outsource to a nation that already has a strong computer science base. Something we certainly do not want.
I am optimistic about the future of the United States economy, but I believe dramatic changes to the education system must be made in order to compete in the global economy.
Litan, Robert. “A ‘Moon Shot’ Goal for Computer Programming.” Washington Wire RSS. The Wall Street Journal, 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.
Kimball, Miles, and Noah Smith. “There’s One Key Difference between Kids Who Excel at Math and Those Who Don’t.” Quartz. Quartz, 27 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.
Sparshott, Jeffrey. “Is 2015 the Year Every U.S. City Adds Jobs?” Real Time Economics RSS. The Wall Street Journal, 21 Jan. 2015. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.