Is Programming The New High School Diploma?

Daniel Markham makes the case for incorporating programming into what we consider literacy in his post “Programming is the new High School Diploma”.

I’m not sure I’d go as far as he would, but this is not an idea to dismiss out of hand as quite a few folks did in a Metafilter thread I was following that led me to post the following:

Actually there are many, many folks circling in on the idea that programming *is* part of a new definition of literacy.

I believe people should have basic programming skills, in as much as they have basic writing skills.

NOT simply to ‘know how a computer works’. Programing is far more than the act of giving instructions to computers to do things.

The idea isn’t to create more programmers/software engineers/computer scientists, just as teaching writing isn’t done for the sole aim of creating more authors (although it more easily opens the door). Instead, programming should be taught as a means to explore science, health, social studies, history, and math. Just as reading and writing are. Instead of creating a book report, create an interactive story with visualizations. Maybe work with other students in its production.

Even the most rudimentary programming skills enable us to better communicate with one another, to tell stories, to create our own games, and to better participate in the networked world we live in.

New tools like MIT’s Scratch are coming along to make much of this possible. Check it out.


Bret Victor – Inventing on Principle from CUSEC on Vimeo.