The New Foreign Language: Computer Programming?
This new wave in public education makes plenty of sense to Kentucky senator David Givens, who points out that there will be an estimated one million new programming jobs available in the US by the year 2020. Givens believes that his state isn’t preparing students to land jobs in the growing computer industry and that learning a programming language will prove as—if not more—beneficial than learning a foreign language.
New Mexico is also following the trend with state senator Jacob Candelaria noting that the push for programming to qualify as a foreign language credit toward a diploma isn’t meant to replace the traditional foreign language subjects, but instead to offer students an opportunity to take new courses that can help them gain skills appropriate for a computer-oriented economy.
Candelaria told the Albuquerque Journal: “Districts could still teach Latin, French or Spanish, but it provides the incentive for them to incorporate coding into their curriculum without it being an unfunded mandate.”
Others think the legislation to start counting programming languages as a foreign language credit in public schools doesn’t go far enough. California representative Tony Cardenas has proposed a piece of legislation in Congress that would provide incentives to public schools to start teaching computer programming languages to students as early as kindergarten.
Regardless of where lawmakers stand on the issue of programming languages being taught in schools, the time to start discussing programming as a staple of an American education is now.
Do you think teaching coding in public schools is a good idea? Do you think students should learn programming if it means they are not taught a foreign language? What has helped you more in your career: a programming language or a foreign language? Tell us in the comments below.