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Michael Tanczos

Negative programmer reaction of the Code.org Video

76 posts in this topic

We could start by replacing cursive with keyboarding in elementary schools.

And then you raise a generation of people who can't write - seriously, I run into college kids all the time who can't write cursive. You ask them to write an in-class essay for their final exam, and they laboriously print pages of block capitals.

 

I'm not a fan of taking anything out of the curriculum (it is far too limited already), but you are talking about removing one of the foundational skills of a developed society...

In 20 years, hand-writing final exam essays will be a thing of the past. I'm surprised we still do. I'm also surprised you encounter college kids who can write cursive at all since nobody I know writes cursive.

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Getting kids to learn programming earlier definitely seems like a good idea to me. We could start by replacing cursive with keyboarding in elementary schools.

I guess the difference is probably separating here whether the target is kids or college-aged people.

if it is kids, then this is probably good, they might actually learn something, and find it a better experience than, say, "hey, go here and memorize this big table of random crap" (like list all states, their capital, and their major cities in terms of population, ...). like, people don't need to memorize this stuff, most likely they will encounter it via exposure, and remember it if it is actually relevant.

for college age students though, I am more pessimistic. it all generally comes off more as a way for the colleges to basically squeeze money out of people and give them a lot of busywork in the process. most of the people who go and get a CS degree still not really knowing how to write code, and most who can had probably learned it on their own anyways. and, also, the whole education thing is pretty good at taking whatever topic, and finding ways to make it suck...

like, most of what I know, I learned myself...

but, then again, probably I am not really the type of person the education system (or society) wants to produce (probably its own drawback in a way, like it is a negative status WRT things like employability, ...).


then again, maybe I have just been "lucky", in that the internet has been around pretty much my whole life.

actually, I probably owe a lot more to Carmack, since to a large degree I pretty much ended up learning programming largely initially by fiddling around with his code.


or such... Edited by cr88192
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We could start by replacing cursive with keyboarding in elementary schools.

And then you raise a generation of people who can't write - seriously, I run into college kids all the time who can't write cursive. You ask them to write an in-class essay for their final exam, and they laboriously print pages of block capitals.
 
I'm not a fan of taking anything out of the curriculum (it is far too limited already), but you are talking about removing one of the foundational skills of a developed society...


In 20 years, hand-writing final exam essays will be a thing of the past. I'm surprised we still do. I'm also surprised you encounter college kids who can write cursive at all since nobody I know writes cursive.


yeah. as-is, cursive is more one of those things whose role is mostly relegated to signing things...

can a person read it? not really.
can a person write it? not really.
block print is much easier to read and write.
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Also, I think your experience is out of norm - not writing cursive doesn't imply writing with block capitals. I print in both upper and lower case and so does almost everyone else I know.

Can you print your upper and lower case as fast as I can write cursive? I'd be very surprised - and I'm not very quick, compared to those skilled in cursive. 

 

 

In 20 years, hand-writing final exam essays will be a thing of the past. I'm surprised we still do.

What planet do you live on? Quite a number of my classmates didn't own their own computers, and that was at a fairly expensive private university.

 

When you factor in all the poor/rural/disadvantaged school systems, there is a very large body of students (~30%) who don't have a computer, even in the US.

 

 

can a person read it? not really.

I'm talking about clear, legible cursive, not chicken-scratch - the type of cursive that requires a solid foundation in primary school, and continual reinforcement throughout secondary education.

Edited by swiftcoder
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Olof Hedman, on 01 Mar 2013 - 16:42, said:
With the car analogy, It's really helpful for your driving if you have at least a basic knowledge of how a car works, and some basic physics.
Same thing with computers, the most versatile tool ever invented, that everyone uses.
 
Not really. If you have to know how a product works internally to be able to successfully operate it, then there has been a failure in product design and it will not be successful to the mass market. Consumer products need to be black boxes for the vast majority of people using them. None of the non-programmers I know would benefit in any way from knowing the basics of how to write code as far as general computer use goes.

 

It's still very helpful to have some knowledge of how it actually works, even though you don't need the low level mechanics view (still largely a black box), to be able to know its potential, and being able to operate it safely and doing basic maintenance.

For both the car, and the computer.

I think some basic understanding of what a program is, what its role is in the computer, and the basic building blocks that make a computer, and some basic networking (really basic) should be common knowledge, much more then it is.

And I think simple programming exercises in a very high level programming language would be an excellent way to teach it.

Couple it with some tinkering with making leds blink with a rasberry pi or arduino.

Even young children can do that with some guidance.

 

And yeah, some of them will get intrigued enough to take it to the next level and actually become a programmer or at least an engineer smile.png

Edited by Olof Hedman
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Also, I think your experience is out of norm - not writing cursive doesn't imply writing with block capitals. I print in both upper and lower case and so does almost everyone else I know.

Can you print your upper and lower case as fast as I can write cursive? I'd be very surprised - and I'm not very quick, compared to those skilled in cursive. 
 
 

In 20 years, hand-writing final exam essays will be a thing of the past. I'm surprised we still do.

What planet do you live on? Quite a number of my classmates didn't own their own computers, and that was at a fairly expensive private university.
 
When you factor in all the poor/rural/disadvantaged school systems, there is a very large body of students (~30%) who don't have a computer, even in the US.


when/where I was, people kept flogging off their iPads and similar...


I mostly just used desktops + laptops.

well, except going back further (middle and high-school), where I didn't have a laptop. because back then (many years ago), they were expensive, and this was generally prior to things like Android and iOS as well, like all people could really do with cell phones was call people and send text messages and similar...

(not really like anyone else had laptops then either, I think this was more in the years of the popularity of accessorized cell-phone strings).


can a person read it? not really.

I'm talking about clear, legible cursive, not chicken-scratch - the type of cursive that requires a solid foundation in primary school, and continual reinforcement throughout secondary education.


not seen this sort of thing, usually it is more just trying to pick letters out of a wavy line...

I personally find it a lot faster/easier to write in block-print, and if a person does a reasonably good job at imitating the form of the usual PC fonts, it is more readable as well.
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I was most disturbed by the claims that programming isn't real work.  Now, I'll admit I've never held a physical job, but come on!  I wonder how much of the general public shares that perception.

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I was most disturbed by the claims that programming isn't real work.  Now, I'll admit I've never held a physical job, but come on!  I wonder how much of the general public shares that perception.

probably the same people who think that it is along the lines of the sort of wizardry commonly portrayed on TV, like where a "programmer" hits keys rapidly for maybe 5 or 10 seconds, and all sorts of otherwise rather implausible stuff starts going on, or at least they manage to pull off something which more realistically probably would have taken at least a week or a month or more to write.

(like, seriously, pull off a non-trivial plot-relevant program in a matter of a few seconds? realistically they probably couldn't even pull off a plot-relevant email in that time...).

(nevermind the "scientists"...).

but, the sad thing is, reality is actually pretty dull, and stuff tends to require lots of time and effort and similar, and stuff happens over very long time-frames, ...


(edit/add: nevermind a recent movie, where they established in-movie that they were operating under the time-frame of a bomb set to go off in a matter of *several minutes*, so presumably the movie was happening in near real-time, yet involved some "clever coding", video-editing and composition, ... which could not have happened at the rate the events were appearing on-screen... as it would have taken at least several minutes for the person to edit the footage, and by then the bomb would already have been going off, ...

more so, since the bomb initially had a 60-minute timer, and most of the ~ 2 hour movie was during the time after the countdown was activated, ... ). Edited by cr88192
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swiftcoder, on 01 Mar 2013 - 10:42, said:

Oberon_Command, on 01 Mar 2013 - 09:59, said:

Also, I think your experience is out of norm - not writing cursive doesn't imply writing with block capitals. I print in both upper and lower case and so does almost everyone else I know.

Can you print your upper and lower case as fast as I can write cursive? I'd be very surprised - and I'm not very quick, compared to those skilled in cursive.

SnowProblem, on 01 Mar 2013 - 09:59, said:
>In 20 years, hand-writing final exam essays will be a thing of the past. I'm surprised we still do.

What planet do you live on? Quite a number of my classmates didn't own their own computers, and that was at a fairly expensive private university.

When you factor in all the poor/rural/disadvantaged school systems, there is a very large body of students (~30%) who don't have a computer, even in the US.
Pushing for cursive writing is looking backwards. Everyone I knew had their own laptop in college. But let's just say that isn't the case. Most schools have computer labs now that are sufficient for classes, and in 20 years this will commonplace. We should prepare students for the future they enter, not the world today. Edited by SnowProblem
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swiftcoder, on 01 Mar 2013 - 10:42, said:

Oberon_Command, on 01 Mar 2013 - 09:59, said:

Also, I think your experience is out of norm - not writing cursive doesn't imply writing with block capitals. I print in both upper and lower case and so does almost everyone else I know.

Can you print your upper and lower case as fast as I can write cursive? I'd be very surprised - and I'm not very quick, compared to those skilled in cursive.

SnowProblem, on 01 Mar 2013 - 09:59, said:
>In 20 years, hand-writing final exam essays will be a thing of the past. I'm surprised we still do.

What planet do you live on? Quite a number of my classmates didn't own their own computers, and that was at a fairly expensive private university.

When you factor in all the poor/rural/disadvantaged school systems, there is a very large body of students (~30%) who don't have a computer, even in the US.


Pushing for cursive writing is looking backwards. Everyone I knew had their own laptop in college. But let's just say that isn't the case. Most schools have computer labs now that are sufficient for classes, and in 20 years this will commonplace. We should prepare students for the future they enter, not the world today.


and, nevermind that the linked statistics were apparently from around a decade ago as well, so it is harder to say how much this relates to the present situation...
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Pushing for cursive writing is looking backwards. Everyone I knew had their own laptop in college. But let's just say that isn't the case. Most schools have computer labs now that are sufficient for classes, and in 20 years this will commonplace. We should prepare students for the future they enter, not the world today.

You are basing this on the assumption that cursive and typing are mutually exclusive? I've never met a student who can't type, even those with perfect cursive.

 

And students who grow up in cultures with more complex scripts (for example, Mandarin) have a much harder job ahead of them learning to write, than an English kid will learning to write cursive. But I see plenty of Chinese students in our university and graduate courses who also excel in computer science...

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Also, I think your experience is out of norm - not writing cursive doesn't imply writing with block capitals. I print in both upper and lower case and so does almost everyone else I know.

Can you print your upper and lower case as fast as I can write cursive? I'd be very surprised - and I'm not very quick, compared to those skilled in cursive.


Probably not, but I also don't need to. I can write quickly enough to suit my purposes; maybe only a little slower than my usual talking pace. Besides, when I'm writing exams and essays the limiting speed factor is not my writing speed, but the speed at which I mentally process the question and structure the answer. The only circumstances I can foresee myself needing raw writing speed is taking dictation. But there are no foreseeable circumstances in which I would be taking dictation without a computer, and I can type faster (~120WPM) on a computer than I've ever seen anyone write in cursive.

In any case, if speed is the argument, then why aren't we still teaching people shorthand? After all, one can write really quickly with it (world record of 350WPM!), and it's about as legible as cursive.
 


In 20 years, hand-writing final exam essays will be a thing of the past. I'm surprised we still do.

What planet do you live on? Quite a number of my classmates didn't own their own computers, and that was at a fairly expensive private university.


 
I live on the same planet as you and almost everyone I know has had computer access of some sort since a young age. Come to think of it, I don't have a single friend who doesn't have a laptop, and this includes the poorest of my friends who are heavily dependent on student loans just to eat. To be fair, I did go to private high schools which forced us all to have laptops in and past the 9th grade. Where did you go to school, and when?

When you factor in all the poor/rural/disadvantaged school systems, there is a very large body of students (~30%) who don't have a computer, even in the US.

I guess I can understand that argument, but that portion of the world's population which does have easy computer access will someday not even be able to read cursive. How well are those students going to succeed when the rest of the country can't understand their writing? How will TAs (especially ESL TAs, which are very common where I go to school) mark their essays when said TAs can't read cursive?

I'm talking about clear, legible cursive, not chicken-scratch - the type of cursive that requires a solid foundation in primary school, and continual reinforcement throughout secondary education.

The latter kind of cursive is unfortunately the more common. "Clear, legible cursive" is a contradiction in terms in my experience.
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And students who grow up in cultures with more complex scripts (for example, Mandarin) have a much harder job ahead of them learning to write, than an English kid will learning to write cursive.

So? We're discussing English writing systems, not Mandarin. The choice is not between Mandarin and English, it's between cursive English and printed English. Complexity is also not the issue the post you were quoting was discussing - prevalence is, and the truth of the matter is that cursive is nowhere near as prevalent as it once was. Witness that only 15% of SAT takers in 2006 used cursive.

Plus, I don't think you can really compare English orthography with Mandarin orthography - each Mandarin character is an entire syllable, whereas a syllable in English takes at least 2-3 (or more) characters. Those characters may look complex, but then, they have more information than a letter of the Roman alphabet, so this is to be expected.

But I see plenty of Chinese students in our university and graduate courses who also excel in computer science...

Computer science is a field that (generally) doesn't require much writing. Are you sure that's a good example? Edited by Oberon_Command
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Computer science is a field that (generally) doesn't require much writing. Are you sure that's a good example?

In case you have missed it, there seems to be an undercurrent in this thread that implies that one has to give up cursive in order to teach computer science... Thus my comment that you quoted.

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swiftcoder, on 01 Mar 2013 - 12:26, said:



SnowProblem, on 01 Mar 2013 - 12:11, said:
Pushing for cursive writing is looking backwards. Everyone I knew had their own laptop in college. But let's just say that isn't the case. Most schools have computer labs now that are sufficient for classes, and in 20 years this will commonplace. We should prepare students for the future they enter, not the world today.

You are basing this on the assumption that cursive and typing are mutually exclusive? I've never met a student who can't type, even those with perfect cursive.
I'm saying let's prioritize teaching keyboarding over cursive earlier in their education, so that when they reach middle school, there can be programming and computer classes instead of Intro to Keyboarding. Maybe cursive can stay around as an elective. Edited by SnowProblem
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Computer science is a field that (generally) doesn't require much writing. Are you sure that's a good example?

In case you have missed it, there seems to be an undercurrent in this thread that implies that one has to give up cursive in order to teach computer science... Thus my comment that you quoted.


I wasn't saying anything of the sort. I'm just pointing out that the complexity and writing speed of one's longhand writing system is less important in computer science than, say, art history, or psychology.

I also think there's an aspect to this "undercurrent" that you're missing. One doesn't have to give up cursive to learn keyboarding (in fact, experience tells me that schools do both), but if one were to give up the time spent learning cursive and leave time for keyboarding, there might be extra time to learn other things, or to get very good at typing. There's only so much time in a school day.
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I also think there's an aspect to this "undercurrent" that you're missing. One doesn't have to give up cursive to learn keyboarding (in fact, experience tells me that schools do both), but if one were to give up the time spent learning cursive and leave time for keyboarding, there might be extra time to learn other things, or to get very good at typing. There's only so much time in a school day.

Sure, but that's a finer line than you might realise.

 

Why not get rid of art, music, literature and sports as well? They don't directly contribute to a career in the sciences either.

Edited by swiftcoder
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Teaching computer programming to every child in school is the stuff of delusions. As it is, we can't even teach every kid how to use Microsoft Word. Not every child is smart, and it has nothing to do with their genetics (there is another massive Lounge post about that) but mostly with work ethic and motivation. Some kids aren't necessarily in a bad environmental situation, but turn themselves into stupid fools because of peers and what is viewed as the normal adult today (usually a false assumption). But, if you are to teach programming, I strongly believe you should teach it in a class using GCC on a Linux-based computer with X Window System disabled (no GUI whatsoever for anything, for all of you non-NIX-ers). That way you won't have a bunch of graduates from high school going into computer science expecting a drag-drop high level interface like in Alice or Scratch.

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I think its good to have programming available to students, especially where Maths is concerned.

 

There are many people who simply hate maths and don't want anything to do with it. Many will flunk at maths because its not the easiest of subjects to teach.  If it were to be mixed with programming, it would allow a student to see Maths in action. The biggest hurdle for a student learning maths is understanding the need to learn it and the possibilities it brings. Programming will most likely make students more interested in Maths and vice-verca.   And of course Maths is a vital skill for science, so it has a benefit to that field as well.

 

I don't think children or young adults need to learn stuff like writing drivers and assembly, but I do remember some schools in the 80s - here in England - using the BASIC language via 8-Bit machines like the ZX Spectrum and C64. If the language used is simple enough and easy for graphics then it would be a powerful teaching companion for Maths.

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Why not get rid of art, music, literature and sports as well? They don't directly contribute to a career in the sciences either.

Because no one said cursive should be eliminated (anyone who did doesn’t count).
Its priority within schools should be swapped with keyboarding, making it elective instead of mandatory, just like art, music, literature, and sports.

Cursive was mandatory teaching in my younger years. As a result of it being forced upon me when I was around 7, I can read and write cursive without having ever used it since. I have not written in cursive in 24 years nor even seen it in 10 years since I left America, but I just drew out the whole alphabet in my head.

That is how kids learn. If that were swapped with keyboarding mandatory at 7 and cursive as an elective at around 12 (when I got my first chance at a computer in school), all the slow typers, finger peckers, etc. who you meet today would instead be moderately decent with much less time spent to get there (since I started so late I was a pecker for years rather than months, as it would have been if I had started keyboarding between 5 and 7) and would have a much more useful skillset.


L. Spiro

Edited by L. Spiro
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Teaching computer programming to every child in school is the stuff of delusions. As it is, we can't even teach every kid how to use Microsoft Word. Not every child is smart, and it has nothing to do with their genetics (there is another massive Lounge post about that) but mostly with work ethic and motivation. Some kids aren't necessarily in a bad environmental situation, but turn themselves into stupid fools because of peers and what is viewed as the normal adult today (usually a false assumption). But, if you are to teach programming, I strongly believe you should teach it in a class using GCC on a Linux-based computer with X Window System disabled (no GUI whatsoever for anything, for all of you non-NIX-ers). That way you won't have a bunch of graduates from high school going into computer science expecting a drag-drop high level interface like in Alice or Scratch.

"Alice", yep, saw that one... in college... a class for using it was part of the required curriculum for a CS major.

general response of people being "how is this programming?...", and yet you still had people in class who can't figure out the whole "drag and drop to make 3D characters do stuff" thing...

indirectly though, it did have a minor influence on something I called the "sequenced event" system for my 3D engine, so much as events can happen sequentially or in parallel and operate with delay-timers (partly as it is a little more usable for various tasks than building stuff via the more traditional Quake style "trigger_whatever" and "target_whatever" systems, but these also exist...). and, also, the sequenced-event system at least has the dignity of being text-based and being able to execute globs of script-code as well...

although, yes, it probably was still kind of a waste to have a whole semester about it...
(I think I got bored and mostly just did other stuff...).

yet, all this was paired up with *actually difficult* classes, mostly stuff like math and similar (then getting repeatedly owned due to not really being very good at math...). (fun time with derivatives, conic sections, limits, integrals, and a good helping of set-notation as gravy to put on everything... and generally at the mid point of a semester being like "I have no idea what is going on at this point"...). Edited by cr88192
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In primary school, block printing and cursive writing styles were taught, and in high-school touch-typing was also mandatory.
Did other's with mid-90's onwards schooling not get taught to touch type?

What planet do you live on? Quite a number of my classmates didn't own their own computers, and that was at a fairly expensive private university.
 
When you factor in all the poor/rural/disadvantaged school systems, there is a very large body of students (~30%) who don't have a computer, even in the US.

These days in Australia, every single high school student is given a standard cheap laptop for use in classes, and teachers are encouraged to integrate these laptops into their lesson plans. Teachers also have access to projectors, electronic white boards etc, which are networked with the laptops.


The most fascinating thing that I've got out of this thread is all the discussion about cursive... For me, it's just a part of "learning to read and write", which has to be taught at a young age. It's the same as printing, but easier. It's not some completely different alphabet that has to be learnt!! Is it?! It's a completely foreign idea to me that people could baulk at not being able to read or write text where the letters have flowed together into a continuous line per word... It seems the same as being illiterate, to my culture-shocked mind..? Edited by Hodgman
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Teaching computer programming to every child in school is the stuff of delusions. As it is, we can't even teach every kid how to use Microsoft Word. Not every child is smart, and it has nothing to do with their genetics (there is another massive Lounge post about that) but mostly with work ethic and motivation. Some kids aren't necessarily in a bad environmental situation, but turn themselves into stupid fools because of peers and what is viewed as the normal adult today (usually a false assumption). But, if you are to teach programming, I strongly believe you should teach it in a class using GCC on a Linux-based computer with X Window System disabled (no GUI whatsoever for anything, for all of you non-NIX-ers). That way you won't have a bunch of graduates from high school going into computer science expecting a drag-drop high level interface like in Alice or Scratch.

I think you're missing the point. You can teach programming to every student the same way you can teach music or creative writing to every student. What it does is give every student the opportunity to experience these things. If they find that it clicks for them and they enjoy it, they can pursue it further.

 

I'm also annoyed by your smarts comment. There is nothing special about being a programmer. It doesn't require special intelligence, and it definitely doesn't make you better than non-programmers. I encounter just as many programmers with lousy work ethic, motivation and below average intelligence as I do people in other fields.  

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It's a completely foreign idea to me that people could baulk at not being able to read or write text where the letters have flowed together into a continuous line per word... It seems the same as being illiterate, to my culture-shocked mind..?

I think you may have not had as much experience with the average American's cursive.

 

I can't read my own handwriting half the time. ;)

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I'm also annoyed by your smarts comment. There is nothing special about being a programmer. It doesn't require special intelligence, and it definitely doesn't make you better than non-programmers. I encounter just as many programmers with lousy work ethic, motivation and below average intelligence as I do people in other fields.  

I think you misunderstood my point, and I'm sorry about that. My point was that some students who don't want to learn a subject and are in a class just because it is required by curricula are going to ruin the class and the learning experience for the people who do actually want to learn something and be there. If you look at an average high school calculus class, every student in there either wants to be in there themselves or their guardians pressured them into it, usually both (at least in America). It is not state required, and there are different levels of math for the different desire of depth. Everyone in American schools has to take at least Algebra to graduate (in my state), and there are Algebra classes for the older children who don't want to be there and for the younger who do. There are also subjects that students who are interested in can pursue at any depth. Computer programming should be (and already is to an extent) one of them. In converse, there are state-required non-leveled "Business Technology" classes where every student must take a class with everyone else regardless of interest or academic prowess and learn Microsoft Office. Some may want to learn, yes, but it is the smaller portion of the class that will not want to learn that creates distractions, slows progress, damages school equipment, and makes the classroom not a place of learning, but a place where different types of people are constantly clashing that destroy the purpose of the class. The reason I know these things is because I know several people who are teachers at these schools. Turning computer programming into a Business Technology class would be a poor choice. Everybody can learn to program, and learn to do almost anything else, but not everyone will. I think the schools should provide all of the required resources for the people who will, and that is only a minor adjustment from where it is now (at least in my state, which is statistically ranked 49th in overall progress).

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