A C# coding workshop for young kids: But why?

May 31, 2013 at 1:56 am 6 comments

This article at ComputerWorld covers more than just the C# coding workshop — it also talks about ScratchJr and Code.org.  It’s a nice collection of news pieces, but I’m missing the underlying argument.

  • Why C#?  That’s an awfully hard language — will that dissuade some of the young kids, maybe convince them that programming is tedious?
  • The argument quote below makes no sense.  “Programming early can pay off in improved thinking and decision-making skills.”  Uh, no.  “Programming skills are so integral to what’s happening in our world. Name a field that doesn’t have some technology integration.”  Well, sure, lots of technology everywhere, but that’s not an argument for programming.

I just don’t get the argument that they’re trying to make.

Wendy Drexler, director of online development at Brown University, said teaching programming early can pay off in improved thinking and decision-making skills. “Programming is an excellent skill to have and not just for the marketability it offers,” she said in an interview.

“Programming skills are so integral to what’s happening in our world. Name a field that doesn’t have some technology integration,” she said. As much as teaching students a specific computer program, Drexler said educators need to “teach a mindset for programming, to lay a foundation for it.”

via For young students, a C# coding workshop for kids – Computerworld.

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A Journal on MOOCs: Good to see! Is Coding the New Second Language? in Smithsonian Magazine

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Doug Blank  |  May 31, 2013 at 7:21 am

    I was going to argue that C# is not any harder (or easier) to learn and use than is Java (which is true). But looking at the materials, it looks like it is a lot of Visual Studio. Which highlights one of the practical differences between C# and Java: there just aren’t a lot of educational projects that support C# like there is for Java. That’s too bad because C# as a language and related functionality is quite interesting.

    Reply
  • 2. shriramkrishnamurthi  |  May 31, 2013 at 10:26 am

    For what it’s worth, I’ve literally never heard of Wendy Drexler before. She isn’t (that I know) affiliated in any way with the CS department at Brown. She appears to lead a team in “development of Pre-College and Executive Masters online programs”, which sounds like some of the side money-making ventures that run without any real faculty oversight (that I can tell).

    Reply
  • 3. Garth  |  May 31, 2013 at 10:28 am

    I have taught with both C# and Java and they are both terrible languages for young kids. There are exceptional kids out there that can thrive with both languages. If all we want to educate in programming is that top 1% these are satisfactory languages. But for the other 99% of the kids I want introduced to programming there are just so many more enjoyable languages out there to teach with.

    “The reality is that if you don’t understand how this or that programming process works, technology just sort of happens to you.” The same could be said of your car. Most people have no idea how electronic fuel injection works and in all reality, they do not need to so long as their mechanic does.

    Reply
  • 4. Mark Miller  |  June 4, 2013 at 2:52 am

    I have a suspicion that when Drexler is talking about “decision-making skills” she’s talking about “technology decision-making skills.” Looking at the rest of her comments, this would seem to fit. As for “thinking skills,” I could buy that, but the thing is she’s not more specific. So her comment on that is almost worthless. What kind of thinking?

    She addresses a point I’ve made several times before, that if you’re not familiar with what’s going on under the covers, that, “technology tends to just happen to you,” and she sees learning something about programming as a way to alleviate that. I see that as a valid point. It’s just that it’s a minimalist goal, the idea of getting people familiar enough with something so that they’re not afraid of it. Not that kids are afraid of technology, but rather they may be afraid of the unexpected that can happen with networked computing if they don’t have some familiarity with what their computer/device can do. Other than this, I didn’t get a clear goal of what she wanted to accomplish.

    Reply
  • 5. shriramkrishnamurthi  |  October 25, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Hey Mark — time for you to add a “flag this post” button…

    Reply
    • 6. Mark Guzdial  |  October 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

      I’m assuming that you meant the spam comment that got posted on this post last night? Or that the post is offensive? I got the spam comment. I thought that the post was okay :-)

      Reply

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