I was reading some of my tech sites this morning when I noticed an article that discussed the computer science education we give our youth.
I remember, way back in 1982/83, when math was boring to me (I finished our assignments rather quickly), and my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Luther, was searching for something to keep me busy. She handed me a book on BASIC programming to use on the Commodore PET computers we had in the media center. I think we had the models 4016 and 4032.
A few weeks before this, or maybe the year prior, we were introduced to the PET computers and turtle tracks. Turtle tracks was a simple LOGO-L-based programming language. It taught us logic and directions at a very early age.
I remember using it in this fashion:
FORWARD 100 LEFT 90 FORWARD 100 LEFT 90 FORWARD 100 LEFT 90 FORWARD 100 LEFT 90
Not only did we have a VERY EARLY lesson on programming in the 2nd or 3rd grade (and onwards), but computers were in a pioneering state and a fairly decent part of our education, for those times. We had exposure about once a week, and this raised interest in some households. I wouldn’t say a large percentage of homes had computers in 1982 or 1983, but I’d make a guess that about 15-20% of the homes had one. Those who had them were relegated to playing games on them, and a small percentage of them were using them to do things like “socially network” on bulletin board systems.
If you go back in time and investigate what these systems were, you could easily determine they were VERY EARLY social networks. Online services like CompuServe, Prodigy, and AOL expanded on the BBS, and became the definite precursor to social networks of today, like: MySpace, Facebook, and Orkut.
Let’s wrap this up. I’m a proponent of making computer science, even elementary programming (coding) education mandatory. It will teach our youth, our leaders of tomorrow, our future champions of industry, that computers aren’t meant for just hanging out on Facebook, Google+, and playing games. It could actually help to bridge the gap between playing and using a computer.