The programming imperative

Blogger Wes Fryer questions traditional emphases of education. With technology at the core of our world, why isn't programming taught from the earliest grades?

Some say that traditional forms of education are moribund and outmoded. And Wesley Fryer, in his Tech Learning blog is not breaking new ground here by proclaiming that all students need a "basic understanding and practical knowledge of rudimentary programming."

We have such faith in the value of traditional education in the United States and elsewhere, and don't seem to question many of the "traditions" that are practiced because they form part of our own educational experiences. Yet as reflective practicioners, questioning our educational practices and those of others is exactly what we should be doing on a regular basis.

With the government pushing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) will four years of required math courses really inspire students to new heights of programming? Inspired by George Gilder's "TELECOSM: How Infinite Bandwidth will Revolutionize Our World," Westley questions whether the current traditional system of teaching math is really working.

He encourages educators to introduce programming to all students to make them digitally literate, as the next generation of programming will have a huge impact on our everyday lives. Programs such as Turtle Logo, a commercial variant of Linux, and Lego Mindstorms inspires kids start thinking creatively about complex tasks. There are wonderful programs available to incorporate into the classroom setting. Wesley pushes:

" We should not let our leaders, with a straight face, tell us they want to prepare our students for the 21st century workforce by even more rigorously and heavy-handedly force feeding a traditional curriculum to them with paper and pencils! All kids need to learn some programming, and there is no time like the present to get started."