Who Needs to Know How to Code? More than just the rich white boys

March 20, 2014 at 1:06 am 4 comments

Wall Street Journal just ran an article (linked below) about people “flocking to coding classes.”  The lead for the story (quoted below) is a common story, but concerning.  If coding is all extra-curricular, with the (presumably expensive) once-a-week tutor, then how do the average kids get access?  How do the middle and lower kids get access?  Hadi Partovi and Jane Margolis talked about this on PRI’s Science Friday — CS education can’t be an afterschool activity, or we’ll keep making CS a privileged activity for white boys.

Like many 10-year-olds, Nick Wald takes private lessons. His once-a-week tutor isn’t helping him with piano scales or Spanish conjugations, but teaching him how to code.

Nick, a fifth-grader in New York, went in with no experience and has since learned enough HTML, JavaScript and CSS to build a simple website. He is now working in Apple’s XCode environment to finish an app named “Clockie” that can be used to set alarms and reminders. He plans to offer it in the iOS App Store for free.

“I always liked to get apps from the app store, and I always wanted to figure out how they worked and how I could develop it like that,” Nick says.

As the ability to code, or use programming languages to build sites and apps, becomes more in demand, technical skills are no longer just for IT professionals. Children as young as 7 can take online classes in Scratch programming, while 20-somethings are filling up coding boot camps that promise to make them marketable in the tech sector. Businesses such as American Express Co. AXP -0.57% send senior executives to programs about data and computational design not so they can build websites, but so they can better manage the employees who do.

via Who Needs to Know How to Code – WSJ.com.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. shriramkrishnamurthi  |  March 20, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Why the assumption that after-school => rich white boys? In many locations, our after-school program attendance has been heavily skewed in just the opposite direction (significant female, super-majority minority, super-majority free-and-reduced lunch). [There's much more one could say about all this, but I just want to question the basic assumption. Is this backed up by significant stats?]

    Reply
    • 2. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  March 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      The particular cited instance was a “tutor”, which is generally expensive. If it were an after-school “tech club” located at a school site, then I’d be more inclined to agree with you, as working parents often rely on after-school clubs and daycare to take care of their kids until they get off work.

      Reply
    • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  March 20, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      We choose for our summer-camps and afterschool programs to skew in the opposite direction, too. But you’re getting just those people who are privileged enough to know they want computing and know how to find it. Impacting the schools has far great reach. It’s really hard to get stats on this. We’ve been trying for years, but schools don’t want to tell you much about who DOESN’T enroll for computing classes.

      Reply
  • 4. Bob Woodley  |  March 20, 2014 at 11:38 am

    There are plenty of after-school activities in non-white neighborhoods. I’m teaching a Saturday class in Scratch on Chicago’s west side. If you want more after-school activities that teach code, um why not volunteer and do it? Don’t wait on the schools to do it – what makes you think they’ll do a good job anyhow?

    Reply

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