Learning Is Only For Professionals

If these young minds haven’t already decided on a career of programming, then they’re just wasting time

In talking with parents, it’s not infrequent that I heard a sentiment similar to:

“What is the value in graphical programming? Don’t real programmers use text languages? Should we really be simplifying it, if they’ll have to learn a different kind of programming later?”

During these discussions, I find that I could not agree more with the points being raised. My job involves writing a fair amount of code, and I would be laughed out of any room for suggesting to use Scratch, Blockly, or any of their kin to implement a product design specification.

Certainly, the only purposeful way to learn programming is to jump in to what is needed at a professional level. In fact, it’s an educational model that I believe needs to be more widely implemented. For any subject, students should be introduced to the concepts at the same time as the professional tools. There are numerous examples of even young children who are up to the challenge, so why should we not try to teach every child in the same manner? Computer science is, after all, only for professional programmers.

With this in mind, I propose the following humble changes:
• When being introduced to basic arithmetic, students should be shown how addition and subtraction are used in the evaluation of harmonic series for estimation of non-real numbers. Math is only for mathematicians.
• When learning about the Earth’s unique ability to readily support human life, children should learn in parallel how to properly maintain cell cultures, with an emphasis on maintaining a sterile control environment in a laboratory setting. It is a basic professional process that is a fundamental component in determining what is and is not alive. Science is only for scientists.
• Snap-together plastic robots are a common method to teach children the fundamentals of both programming and of mechanical engineering. However, if a child is unable to simultaneously learn professional welding techniques, such as ones needed in the construction of an extraterrestrial rover, their interest should perhaps be directed elsewhere. Engineering is only for engineers.
• Early in a child’s Physical Education curriculum, they learn the benefits of stretching as a component of exercise. This should be expanded to include knowledge of professional level physical therapy. If detailed muscular knowledge is uninteresting or too difficult for the student, they should defer stretching, and perhaps all exercise, until more fully ready. Physical Education is only for medical professionals.
• Shortly after mastering the alphabet, children should be tasked to write a story. Many children enjoy writing from even a young age. However, all children should be required to submit their stories to a publisher, and to successfully have their work published. If they cannot, they certainly should not waste their time learning further forms of expressive writing. Writing is only for authors.
• Many children dream of becoming president. If, after watching Schoolhouse Rock, a child cannot even begin to get a post office renamed, their dream of high elected office, much less president should be discouraged [1]. Civic engagement is only for politicians.

It is a great blessing when children discover their passions early in life. By introducing professional level tools and requirements to younger and younger children, we should be able to isolate their true callings earlier, or at least, prepare them for the professional workforce by a much younger age. That is, of course, the principle goal of education, and we should strive to make it the exclusive one.

[1] An exception can be made here if money earned from lemonade stand fundraisers is deposited into a Political Action Committee designed to lobby for renaming local post offices.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s