- Stanford University computer science professor Mehran Sahami writes for The Huffington Post that initiatives to offer computer science to all high schoolers are about much more than filling a gap in the number of programmers in the economy.
- Teaching computer science is about giving students computational thinking skills, not just teaching them to code, Sahami argues, and that helps them with problem-solving, logical deduction and clear, precise thinking.
- Students trained early in computer science will be better equipped to understand and develop informed opinions about the capabilities and limitations of computing, the vulnerability of online data, safety concerns of self-driving cars and potential to use IT to reduce poverty and inequality.
President Barack Obama’s Computer Science for All initiative called for $4 billion in federal support to expand computer science programs in schools across the country. At this point, Code.org counts 31 states and Washington, DC, that allow students to use computer science courses toward their graduation requirements in math or science. And while only one in four schools teach computer programming, the trend is up. In 2013, only 12 states allowed computer science courses to count as math or science credits, with the rest calling it an elective.
As schools think about expanding computer science offerings, it is important to take a broader view on the value of the courses. Learning to code will excite some students and help a portion of them in their future careers. But learning these broader computational thinking skills has the power to help all students, regardless of future major.