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Excite Kids To Code By Focusing Less On Coding

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the or-by-bribing-them-with-candy dept.

Programming 207

the agent man writes "The Hour of Code event taking place December 9-15 has produced a number of tutorials with the goal to excite 10 millions kids to code. It's really interesting to contrast the different pedagogical approaches behind the roughly 30 tutorials. The University of Colorado's 'Make a 3D Game' tutorial wants to excite kids to code by focusing less on coding. This pedagogy is based on the idea that coding alone, without non-coding creativity, has a hard time attracting kids who are skeptical of computer science, including a high percentage of girls who think 'programming is hard and boring.' Instead, the 'Make a 3D Game' activity has the kids create sharable 3D shapes and 3D worlds in their browsers, which they then want to bring to life — through coding. There is evidence that this strategy works. The article talks about the research exploring how kids get excited through game design, and how they can later leverage coding skills acquired to make science simulations. You can try the activity by yourself or with your kids, if you're curious."

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207 comments

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5 y-o cold in his node (-1, Offtopic)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 9 months ago | (#45629935)

he made me post this.

Re:5 y-o cold in his node (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 9 months ago | (#45629963)

obviously should be "code in his node."

Re:5 y-o cold in his node (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45629965)

That's great sam that you spent time with the fam and thus have to post this spam.

When you see your wife (LOLS) tell her thank you ma'am.

The Solution (4, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 9 months ago | (#45629943)

A better way to promote programming to kids:

https://www.google.com/search?q=booth+babes&source=lnms&tbm=isch [google.com]

Re:The Solution (2)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 9 months ago | (#45631063)

Dear Daughter,

Be inspired to code by dressing really slutty and letting a bunch of geeks you'd never go out with ogle you.

Your Loving Father

Re:The Solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45631159)

Yes, that's the "politically correct" response.

The realist response might involve the fact that most females have no interest in programming. MOST.

Girls are completely wrong. (3, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 9 months ago | (#45629951)

Coding for it's own sake is *easy* and boring.

Re:Girls are completely wrong. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630325)

They like it better when it's hard—it's easier to take it all in.

Re:Girls are completely wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630475)

But it seems hard to grasp that it's means it is.

Re:Girls are completely wrong. (1)

msauve (701917) | about 9 months ago | (#45630503)

Hello, World!

It's (1)

antdude (79039) | about 9 months ago | (#45630817)

It is/has? :P

Re:Girls are completely wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630877)

Throw your monads on the table surrounded with the girls who want to learn. Retain form and function while explaining and demonstrating the linguistics involved. Make it as concrete as possible. The first year students will love it.

'programming is hard and boring.' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45629957)

Programming well is indeed hard for most, and most would find trying to do such a thing boring. Intelligent people are few and far between, and a grand majority of people just don't have the aptitude to be good programmers, or even mediocre programmers. Give it up, it's hopeless, Kenstar!

Re:'programming is hard and boring.' (1, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | about 9 months ago | (#45630381)

Yeah, it's so hard that children can easily teach themselves. It's ridiculously easy. How many of the users here taught themselves to write code before they age of 10? Face it, it doesn't take a special mind or superior intellect to write code. It does not make you special. Get over it.

Re:'programming is hard and boring.' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630421)

Yeah, it's so hard that children can easily teach themselves.

Kids can easily teach themselves to program well? Then why do a grand majority of programmers suck at it completely? They're incompetent and don't have a deep understanding of any of the concepts.

Face it, it doesn't take a special mind or superior intellect to write code.

Maybe not if you're just talking about writing any sort of code whatsoever, but that's a pretty low bar to set for people, isn't it? It does take special minds and superior intellect to be great at things such as this, though.

Get over it.

You get over it. The hordes of shitty programmers aren't proving your point very well.

Why there are so many sucky programmers (5, Interesting)

ulatekh (775985) | about 9 months ago | (#45630555)

Kids can easily teach themselves to program well? Then why do a grand majority of programmers suck at it completely?

In my experience, sucky programmers are the way they are because...they didn't learn to program as kids.

I did, and was shocked when I entered college (late 1980s) to find that the vast majority of my peers in the CS program had never touched a computer before going to college. They majored in CS because they thought they could get a good job and make a whole lot of money. Love for the craft (or any actual aptitude for programming or engineering) was never part of it.

The next problem is that, when they get out of college and enter the workforce, they bristle at the idea that there's anything else to learn. After all, they went to college, and they know everything. I'll never understand that...I have to learn constantly just to stay relevant. But most industry programmers developed lots of false confidence by bashing around toy problems in college, and try to be just as sloppy and short-sighted in their paid work.

Finally...because bad code is not a life-or-death thing like bad work in other fields is. Can you imagine chemists as sloppy and incompetent as the average industry computer programmer? They'd either poison themselves, blow themselves up, or dissolve themselves before long. Oh, how I wished I had stayed with chemistry.

Re:Why there are so many sucky programmers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630653)

In my experience, sucky programmers are the way they are because...they didn't learn to program as kids.

And for many, they couldn't, because they have no aptitude for it. Being a good programmer takes talent and critical thinking skills that most people simply don't possess.

Re:Why there are so many sucky programmers (2)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 9 months ago | (#45631069)

And even when you do, you can't get a job because everyone wants a rockstar developer who can do it all when in reality it'd take a team of 6 specialists to do what they expect 1 person to be able to know/execute perfectly and quickly.

Re:Why there are so many sucky programmers (4, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | about 9 months ago | (#45631185)

When I was running through CS (graduated in 2008), the students knew they would have to fight tooth and nail for positions. They had to be better than the offshore coding houses, and/or the H-1Bs.

So, a lot of them not just did well in class, but went off on internships, both paid and unpaid, as well as went and got their name on some OSS project.

The people that went through CS were the die-hards... there were no illusions about getting some cushy ABAP job. Instead the students focused on trying to actually be usable pieces in a dev team puzzle. The people who were not that dedicated switched their majors to general business.

Re:'programming is hard and boring.' (3, Informative)

Decker-Mage (782424) | about 9 months ago | (#45630557)

Simple answer? The best people at that kind of work are puzzle-people. The only differences I have detected over the last forty-five years is what knowledge domain they are best suited for solving problems in this manner. When they decide to enter the field, computer science or engineering or programming (coding), they face a curriculum that is seriously disconnected with their passion around reasoning out and solving problems. It's a one size fits all curriculum that winnows the wheat rather than the chaff.

As with your example, I started when I was ten. My personal computer occupied the entire first floor of the Science building at the university. Everyone thought it was "cute" that someone so young was picking it up quickly. By the time I was 14 I was a teaching assistant and doing consulting. Back then, it was all about solving problems. That changed rather quickly over the next few years as the computer science, then computer engineering, even the set of courses within various departments were seriously over-subscribed. Then the curbs were brought in to reduce the number of successful candidates and to winnow out anyone except those who would tough it out. You also see this in pre-med and pre-law programs for the same reason.

There's no easy fix either. They can yell up and down about a shortage of STEM graduates but until the systemic restrictions are centered about actually selecting people that are "the best and brightest," it isn't going to change. Meanwhile, "our global competitors" are about getting people through to the job market with what they need to know rather than equipped with knowledge that is useless in real-world problems.

Re:'programming is hard and boring.' (1)

russotto (537200) | about 9 months ago | (#45630525)

How many of the users here taught themselves to write code before they age of 10? Face it, it doesn't take a special mind or superior intellect to write code.

Actually, it does. It's just that most people who have the knack can express it by age 10.

Re:'programming is hard and boring.' (1)

narcc (412956) | about 9 months ago | (#45630769)

I haven't met anyone yet with the interest but not the aptitude. I taught computer programming to adult learners for several years as an optional part of a computer literacy series. I had exactly two students fail to complete the course -- both because they refused to do any of the exercises. You can't learn to program without programming, just like you can't learn to drive without driving.

Programming is absurdly simple. It's been my experience that anyone can learn to write computer programs with surprisingly little effort. This terrifies some people. I'll let you puzzle out why.

Re:'programming is hard and boring.' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630837)

Programming is absurdly simple.

I've found that most of the people who say this are crappy programmers, overly optimistic, or both.

Clown Research indicates kids like baloons... (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 9 months ago | (#45629981)

...however Ronald McDonald has shown that a happy meal with a TOY works best.

Unless the toy its stupid and boring CODE.

Re:Clown Research indicates kids like baloons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630003)

..or requires ASSEMBLY

Re:Clown Research indicates kids like baloons... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 9 months ago | (#45630313)

I prefer ASSEMBLY to broken Makefiles ...

Re:Clown Research indicates kids like baloons... (1)

msauve (701917) | about 9 months ago | (#45630511)

Real men use machine language.

Re:Clown Research indicates kids like baloons... (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about 9 months ago | (#45630569)

I think real men use plugboards, though oddly enough, most of the original plugboard coders in the 40's and the magnetic core ROM knitters in the 50's and 60's were women.

Re:Clown Research indicates kids like baloons... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 9 months ago | (#45630733)

The coders of the 40's were women because the men were mostly at war. The people who 'wove' together the magnetic cores for core memory arrays were drudge workers. Precision drudge workers, but still just doing the same thing consistently over and over and over. The people who wrote the patterns that were then written into those magnetic core arrays were an entirely different group.

Re:Clown Research indicates kids like baloons... (1)

nigelo (30096) | about 9 months ago | (#45630979)

The best we could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth

For loops and printfs aren't fun (5, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 9 months ago | (#45630005)

If you want people to get interested in programming, you have to show them something interesting they can do with it? *gasp*

Personally I didn't get interested in programming because someone showed me how to do a for loop. I got interested because I could build games in ZZT or add my own cheat codes to gorillas.bas. (Those damn gorillas didn't stand a chance against my nuclear bananas.)

Re:For loops and printfs aren't fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630097)

"Can I put a boner array in my butt loop?" [smbc-comics.com]

If programming isn't fun, you're doing it wrong.

Re:For loops and printfs aren't fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630517)

Not fun? I think you may have forgotten your former self.

10 PRINT "YO MAMA"
20 GOTO 10

Re:For loops and printfs aren't fun (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#45631203)

I got into programming because my friend talked me into taking an elective class in high-school. I was reluctant at first. But after I saw what it was all about, I realized how potentially powerful programming was: a wide variety of ideas that I could conceive I could turn into a "device" and shape it to my vision: the computer was a blank canvas and the programming language was a rack full of shiny new paints and brushes.......and it was fun and liberating, until the boss made me paint the corporate equivalent of velvet Elvises all day.

Maybe kids should just be forced to take a course until it clicks what programming is about. Some things just take getting over an initial hump of ignorance and confusion.

Since when... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630013)

Was programming ever not hard or boring?

Me thinks some little kiddies are in for a rude awakening when they realize their favourite games are comprised of nothing but hundreds of thousands of lines of "code". The real world doesn't hide C or C++ behind a pretty sugar coated UI. If they're not interested in programming, then they're not interested in programming. I don't understand why there seems to be this excessive push to force programming on younglings these days. It's definitely not for everyone, and the last thing we need right now is more dis-interested programmers who write crummy code because they're just there for the cash.

Re:Since when... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630229)

The push is to get young girls into programming. Because if young girls can't do what a grown man can, that would imply that grown man are superior to young girl in at least one thing. And that would get the feminists mad. So keep pushing kids into stuff that do not interest them, because you go girl! Nothing is more important then proving men are inferior.

Re:Since when... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630465)

I for one welcome our new young girl overladies

Re:Since when... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630581)

Exactly. Programming was never "boring" to the right kids. We don't need the other kids.

Re:Since when... (2)

doctor woot (2779597) | about 9 months ago | (#45630779)

Programming was never "boring" to the "right" kids because those kids were creative and had the ability to imagine the possibilities provided by computers and the motivation to see them through. But with the outright failure of the American (and possibly elsewhere) educational system, it's not absurd to suggest that maybe we ought to foster this sort of creativity and innovative behavior in more people through different approaches to educating children. As it stands, academic subjects are taught as horrible distortions of their actual selves and not at all accurate representations of what the subjects are actually like. For example, my "computer science" classes in high school involved typing up code in HTML and learning how to send emails. If I hadn't known any better I would've dropped computers altogether. Same goes for math, physical science, etc.

  Even if we don't convince all too many kids to pursue academic careers, with a stronger social understanding and appreciation of the sciences we might just end up with, at the very least, slightly lessened pressure on scientists who are starving for research grants.

Re:Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45631067)

Why have the best when you can force a 1:1 female:male ratio*?

We should simply assign people at birth to a certain job. If you allow people to choose they tend to choose what they want, instead of choosing whatever job will help us reach the soon to be mandatory* 1:1 ratios.

* not valid for low-paid, risky, or otherwise "bad" jobs.

Re:Since when... (1)

fermion (181285) | about 9 months ago | (#45630749)

I would say that coding, at the high level, it much less tedious than it once was. A lot can be done by drag and drop. Even the most tedious platform coding, for the Mac, has been greatly simplified. Of course much of this 'simple' coding does not pay very much.

From a pedagogical point of view, the idea is to teach techniques and process without overwhelming the immature mine with the details. It many cases this leads to meaningless games and trivial activities that don't really teach much. University of Colorado, who has done lots of great work in promoting this stuff, also has also done some stuff that is just games and requires a great deal of elaboration to make it effective.

One project that has been around for a while that is high quality is Alice [alice.org] . The project, like so many others, suffer from the 'magic bullet' phenomenon. To often people expect a curriculum to magically cause a student to learn content without a qualified teacher. This predates computers. It is why we such problems in so many elementary schools that leads to failure in high grades.

Coding is a process skill, a logical skill, and a discipline. It is not just knowing keywords, or which things to drag, or how to use an IDE. For a teacher who only has a passing relationship with coding, this is what it taught. For others the nuts and bolts, at an appropriate level, is the focus.

Re:Since when... (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 9 months ago | (#45630827)

It's definitely not for everyone, and the last thing we need right now is more dis-interested programmers who write crummy code because they're just there for the cash.

While I agree that just being in it for the cash is the wrong approach, I also vehemently disagree that programming is the last thing kids need. Kids need programming with their mathematics. Consider a Sigma symbol -- That's a fucking for loop you twit. Now, if we had just taught the kids how to do mathematics on computers instead of shitty little calculators then they could control the primary IO they have with the digital world: HTML and JavaScript.

Once you realize that programming is essentially applied algebra, then you must ask yourself why it the hell would you even consider depriving the kids of a meaningful way to utilize the mathematics you're trying to teach them? Don't you WANT to extinct that question, "Meh, When will I ever use this in the real world?" and the associated boredom?

Human. You are a damned tool using creature. Your younglings will naturally find intriguing useless concepts that they have no way of directly leveraging. I have trained children who are flunking out of mathematics to be A+ students by simply teaching them a bit of JavaScript and game design. It is the teachers that are FAILING like fools to hand out the tools. Someone must break the cycle. Every human with a computer that doesn't know how to tell it what they want it to do is hindering your progress as a species. In the Age of Information this is like not teaching them how to read and write.

Are you a scientist? I don't think you are. If you were you would realize you can't just say shit like "the last thing we need is ___" without testing the damned hypothesis first. Go suck a tailpipe, you are hindering your herd.

Re:Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45631253)

I don't understand why there seems to be this excessive push to force programming on younglings these days.

It's not a matter of forcing everyone to become programmers, it's a matter of exposing everyone to subjects relevant to modern life, so that they can make informed decisions on what to pursue later in life.

Why teach geography in school? Not everyone will become travel agents. Why teach history in school? Not everyone will commit genocide. Why teach mathematics in school? Not everyone will become card counters. Et cetera.

Most items people use daily rely on a microprocessor to function - traffic lights, dishwasher, elevator, TV remote, smartphone... While there is for sure a set of kids who are naturally drawn to explore how these things work, there is also a large group of people who don't even know it is possible to influence how these items work. A computer is magic to them, when the computer does not work like they expect they conclude "computers are hard", feel stupid, and move on. What if even a small percentage of these people could be made to see that they can influence how computers work? This is what this program aims to do.

There is also a democratic aspect to this - if the population at large is oblivious to the fact that computer programming can be changed, they will accept lies or status quo with the simple motivation "the computer says so" - this could have implications ranging from trivial to catastrophic (hello e-voting...).

Programming IS hard and boring (3, Interesting)

kervin (64171) | about 9 months ago | (#45630035)

I love to code and have been ever since I owned my first computer, but the kids are right. Programming is hard and boring compared to a lot of things they could be doing. So may we can try to help them understand why this hard and boring task is still worth their time. Instead of try to put lipstick on that particular pig.

Re:Programming IS hard and boring (5, Insightful)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 9 months ago | (#45630083)

I love to code and have been ever since I owned my first computer, but the kids are right. Programming is hard and boring compared to a lot of things they could be doing. So may we can try to help them understand why this hard and boring task is still worth their time. Instead of try to put lipstick on that particular pig.

Most things worth doing have their hard and boring stretches ... but when that program works, or that music plays beautifully, or whatever it is just comes together, there is a lot of satisfaction.

Re:Programming IS hard and boring (2)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about 9 months ago | (#45630595)

You know, any task done well should logically have this property, but for some reason you never hear about the years of kitchen catastrophes that go into making an innovative world-class chef, or years of grinding practice that make a gold-medal figure-skating or gymnastics routine. Maybe there really is an image problem that's bigger than we'd like to admit.

Re:Programming IS hard and boring (1)

msauve (701917) | about 9 months ago | (#45630531)

"Programming is hard and boring compared to a lot of things they could be doing."

Like digging ditches on a road crew? At least programming pays well and is respectable.

Where Have You Gone, Hypercard? (1)

theodp (442580) | about 9 months ago | (#45630075)

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo) Programming for the People [creativeapplications.net]

Re:Where Have You Gone, Hypercard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630187)

The WWW is HyperCard. Pages are Cards. JavaScript is HyperTalk. The Document Object Model is more versatile than Stacks ever were.

Right click in any modern web browser, choose Inspect Element, and a whole JavaScript programming environment pops up, complete with debugger. Programming for the People is available to anyone who wants it, and unlike HyperCard, web browsers are FREE.

Re:Where Have You Gone, Hypercard? (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about 9 months ago | (#45630413)

The graphical layout engine is still missing. Sure, you can get crappy WYSIWYG page layout editors --- but nothing that lets you start hooking up actual interactive functionality to objects without diving into the code (which might be spread over several programming languages and environments). HyperCard may not be the giant flexible solution-for-everything that HTML+JavaScript+etc.etc.etc. are, but it was still an order of magnitude easier to pick up from "never touched a computer before" to "whipping up interactive graphical database front ends."

Re:Where Have You Gone, Hypercard? (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 9 months ago | (#45630773)

Web browsers are not free. Someone paid for it. It just wasn't you.

Fortunately, away (1)

Animats (122034) | about 9 months ago | (#45630949)

Having once written for HyperCard, I'm glad it's gone. It had some syntax in common with COBOL. ADD 1 TO N is valid COBOL and valid HyperTalk. The data access in Hypercard (put the second word of name into last_names) was worse than COBOL.

If you used card names instead of card numbers, the program ran much slower.

Re:Fortunately, away (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 9 months ago | (#45631207)

HyperTalk was oddball, but HyperCard was a decent way to get a non-technical user to be able to present data in a usable form, then expand from there.

I could easily do similar with a Web page and some backend scripting, but there was something fairly nice about HyperCard's instant gratification where once the script was in, it was ready to go. No makefiles, no compilation, the source was the object code.

I would not be surprised if we saw a modern version of Hypercard come around again, because done right, it would function both offline, online, and perhaps even partially online where frequently used cards would be cached.

Make Stuff Happen (1)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | about 9 months ago | (#45630121)

This is no secret... And yet it's not really done enough. At Griffith University a language called MaSH is used to lower the bar and allow people to actually make stuff happen, while still being a good introduction to *real* coding (it's a subset of Java and a few specialised APIs). Simple text processing, simple graphics, simple robotic control. http://www.ict.griffith.edu.au/arock/MaSH/ [griffith.edu.au]

Wants me to use Chrome (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45630127)

What is it with all the stuff that wants me to use Chrome these days? Fine for an educational setting, of course. But this coding to the browser stuff is getting offensive. Is Chrome really that much better at graphics or whatever? And is Firefox getting fixed up, or what?

Re:Wants me to use Chrome (2)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 9 months ago | (#45630319)

Chrome has a full application interface for writing apps in it, much like Android or iOS. Feel free to hit https://chrome.google.com/webstore [google.com] and have a look at some.

Not just kids (4, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 9 months ago | (#45630139)

I've never learned any language for it's own sake, and I've always been interested in programming as long as I can remember.

Every time I've tried to learn a language just to know it, it's about as successful as pushing a string. As soon as I have some goal I'm excited about where not knowing a certain language is getting in my way of achieving it, I learn virtually effortlessly.

Re:Not just kids (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 9 months ago | (#45630321)

I tried learning LISP for its own sake and realized I had no actual use for it.

I love the idea of learning a language just to expand my programming vocabulary theoretically, but in practice its just dull.

Re:Not just kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630507)

EMACS MACROS!!!

Re:Not just kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630617)

> I tried learning LISP for its own sake and realized there was no use for it.

Fixed that for you. It was used to *cripple* the brains of my generation of MIT computer science people.

Chrome (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630213)

I don't get why people make 'web apps' whose only advantage seems to be that they're cross platform, and then tell me that I should be using Chrome for the 'best experience'. It seems to work fine in Firefox, but perhaps something is subtly broken.

Re:Chrome (1)

Bobakitoo (1814374) | about 9 months ago | (#45630263)

It's 1995 all over again! Except better because now we got hoverboard, flying car and dehydrated pizza.

Re:Chrome (1)

James Sarvey (3348883) | about 9 months ago | (#45630469)

I don't know where you've been, but my local Pizza Hut's pizzas have been dreadfully dehydrated since at least 1995.

Here's another idea... (1)

Pro923 (1447307) | about 9 months ago | (#45630243)

How about take the kids that are actually fascinated by it, and do things to enrich them? Then when they're ready to work, make sure they're in a position to use their talent and gift - instead of putting them in the "everyone is equal crowd" where everyone goes to meetings and discusses the various wrong way to do things?

Moonbat memes replace reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630251)

Just as global climate change is used to force people into accepting limits on freedom, the "camp code" is a cult attempting to drastically increase supply over demand so business has cheap labor. The "fail" is that "coding" takes talent...

Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630271)

Logic got me interested in programming.

So all we gotta do is teach children that dad is stupid, the priest is a liar, and the government doesn't give a shit about them.

Wow, could they focus instead on UX? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 9 months ago | (#45630279)

That's the most hideously-designed site I've seen in a long while.

Take them to 1981 and give then an Apple II? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 9 months ago | (#45630311)

Take them to 1981 and give then an Apple II or a Commodore PET? And a 100 different copies of "Compute" magazine so they can type in their own programs and get immediate gratification from a small amount of code?

Teach kids to cook by focusing less on cooking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630359)

It's the wrong idea entirely. Just go back to basics and use BASIC, and kids who have an aptitude for programming will become entranced in no time by how they can get the computer to do what they instruct it to do. However much you appreciate the best points of [insert favourite modern language here], I've never seen anything that would have been so comprehensible to the young person's mindset and abilities as it was for me at the beginning of the home computer era, nevermind the fact that it introduces the most important aspects of programming languages.

Once you get to the stage where you've built your first game and are then able to adapt it and refine it, you're pretty much there in terms of being ready to get your foot on the first rung of the professional programmer ladder.

December 9-15 (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | about 9 months ago | (#45630455)

That's a long hour.

Programming is a dead-end job (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#45630491)

Why the hell the push to force more women into programming? Programming is a dead-end job. The stats and personal experience show a good percent move on to something else. Burnout, RSI, ageism, long-hours, etc. are real issues in programming. Women want stability because they often end up being the primary care-givers of families for good or bad, and programming is NOT stability.

If you like programming, that's fine, but don't expect to be able to stay in it for more than 15 or so years. Have a Plan B.

I'm just the messenger.

Re:Programming is a dead-end job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630563)

Why the hell the push to force more women into programming?

The push to drive down wages in IT. Women generally make less than men, doing the same work. The would apply to programmers too. Gotta get the H1Bs, women, kids, criminals, etc all coding...everybody except white guys. We all know white guys can't code.

Re:Programming is a dead-end job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630661)

everybody except white guys. We all know white guys can't code.

That's right, blanco. Now quit your uppity whining, move your ass aside, and let da real bitches do the real programming.

Re:Programming is a dead-end job (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#45631175)

You forgot to include cannibals.

Re:Programming is a dead-end job (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45630565)

If you like programming, that's fine, but don't expect to be able to stay in it for more than 15 or so years.

I think you've just identified the reason. If the supply of programmers is burning out that fast, we've got to shove as many replacements in as we can, lest we face having to do something really drastic, like pay them more...

Re:Programming is a dead-end job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630821)

we've got to shove as many replacements in as we can, lest we face having to do something really drastic, like pay them more...

My God! Are you crazy, son?
-Plutocrat Society

Re:Programming is a dead-end job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630609)

Really,

I must be imagining my now 12 year career, with excellent prospects for all kinds of growth in all kinds of directions. I have done everything from writing SFTP servers embedded in an ISDN modem, to writing web front-end UI code, to web back-end datbase code. I have to tell recruiters I am not interested all the time as I currently have a job. I guess I am going to get fired in 3 years, and there is nothing I can do about it? Oh wait, I don't suck at what I do, I will be employed in 3 years, and in 10 years as well. I must be some freak of nature or something.

Re:Programming is a dead-end job (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#45630663)

The industry is cyclical. Good times now may not last. The future is difficult to predict.

Statistically, the odds are against one. Maybe you are the exception, I can't tell. Plus, how does one know whether they will be one of the lucky/special ones, or follow the historical (typical) route when choosing a career?

Civil Engineering looks like a better bet:

http://improvingsoftware.com/2009/05/19/programmers-before-you-turn-40-get-a-plan-b/ [improvingsoftware.com]

Re:Programming is a dead-end job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630643)

4 years in and burned out well on my way to RSI.

Re:Programming is a dead-end job (1)

russryan (981552) | about 9 months ago | (#45631187)

Not so dead an end. I have 35 years as a "coder" and am still loving it. I make good money by anyone's standards, and look forward to each new challenge. The field is always evolving. I'll be speaking at my daughter's school next week to share my perspective with middle school kids. Bottom line? Figure out what you love and do it. It just might be programming.

ok (1)

msauve (701917) | about 9 months ago | (#45630497)

"It's really interesting to contrast the different pedagogical ...This pedagogy"

Protip: If you want to try to impress by using big words, learn more of them.

Re:ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630589)

I think we should through all these pedagogues in jail and throw away the key. It could be your kid they come after next!

/Poe's law

Re:ok (1)

DrPBacon (3044515) | about 9 months ago | (#45630965)

Everyone loves a good pedagogue. What better way to give children hope for the future than to reassure them that they'll never have to think all that much?

VB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630553)

Windows tools are actually pretty good at removing the minutia of professional coding. Access is a great learning tool. You can create a normalized database, forms, and reports without spending a lot of time coding. Since it's all built in, kids can create a fairly sophisticated full-blown app.

The best way to get interested in something is to have a success pretty fast.

Don't bother teaching Americans to program (1)

ulatekh (775985) | about 9 months ago | (#45630585)

Everyone knows that there's no future for American computer programmers. I've been scrounging since the dot-com bubble burst. That was followed by the outsourcing phenomenon, the guest worker/fake job ads [youtube.com] phenomenon, and the perfect-fit phenomenon.

That's why kids don't want to become computer programmers. Because they're not as stupid and gullible as you think.

Re:Don't bother teaching Americans to program (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630665)

I haven't had any trouble at all and get contacted by recruiters frequently. I got a new job when the economy nose-dived after applying to only a handful. I recently left there for a job and once again only applied to a few. I am a decent, but I am not some super programmer that Google would hire.

for good reasons, IMHO (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#45631075)

kids don't want to become computer programmers. Because they're not as stupid and gullible as you think.

I completely agree with this, but for a completely different reason which kind of contradicts the premise of your reason.

IMHO, there is a bright future for American computer programmers. We're needed more than ever, and good ones are harder to find per capita. Pay is good.

However, the problem is the **work environment**

Coding work sucks, but all work sucks. I was a snowboarding instructor for 5 seasons and **that** even sucked b/c we had to be teaching fatass Texan rich dudes how to stand up on the board instead of going out and riding to improve our own skills or get footage for sponsors.

All work sucks.

The shit part about coding that makes it wise for kids to want to avoid it is that in most of the industry the coders are highly paid slaves.

REAL CODERS HAVE TO DO ALL THE WORK.

Just look at Snapchat. Or have a gander at this borderline psychotic but not a joke job ad [gawker.com] for a web coder for Penny Arcade. That's why young people don't want to code.

American business rewards all the worst things...the incentives are all going in the wrong direction. As to your personal situation and why you've been scrounging since the dot-com bubble burst...well, it could be alot of things. Maybe your idea of "scrounging" means turning down a job a Microsoft because you dont want to work for the man...maybe youre a true genius who makes everyone even the bosses look bad so is ostracized...hell, idk...but I don't think your experience is representative, however I do agree that the issues you identify in hiring are all legit problems.

what a great way to guarantee job security for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630603)

what a great way to guarantee job security for us programmers. Sounds like the crap they fail at in public schools where they generate lots of 'excited' but functionally illiterate children now read fro a wonderful job at a fast food franchise.

Maybe kids who are 'skeptical' of conputer science should search for other less difficult professions and a future of voting for democrats

hmmm. (1)

johnsnails (1715452) | about 9 months ago | (#45630605)

You are using all of the necessary types of blocks, but try using more of these types of blocks to complete this puzzle. Taken from the first lesson... Even with the IDE in front of me I couldn't understand what it was trying to tell me.

Teach kids logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630611)

You could tech kids logic, but then you run the risk of a new generation revolting against the government I suppose...

jsfiddle (1)

johnsnails (1715452) | about 9 months ago | (#45630639)

I skipped ahead... now I need an 'JSFiddle' equivalent for this.

i.e. Attract the stupid kids who can't code (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630667)

i.e. Attract the stupid kids who can't code to get the extra money from them. Pat them on the head and tell them they're programming when they script a couple lua events to make them keep taking "programming" classes.

Site has issues, but the fix is easy (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 9 months ago | (#45630693)

I'm using Chrome with NotScript and Flash Blocker. Even when I permitted the scripts and Flash, that 3d frogger thing was bogged down and unworkable.

That's OK though. All they have to do is go to their own web site and learn how to code.

Job Vacancy - 10 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45630771)

Galactic overlord implementation of this internet and planet control and domination / human enslavement and destruction plans have failed -- the milk has become too sour tasting and all bliss has again been lost. Recent plans to recover losses are now underway and newly established hive-mind Coding Borg Queen currently seeking fresh meat and young minds for re-building a future-human astral milk house. Our fleeting promise coming to you in whispers is, in exchange for allowing us to sap your children, who have the potential for ability to dream into shape the song line star wormholes from DNA secretions - we will provide you with a steady diet of [your] government's cheese so you can afford pay your health insurance and bills. Compenation for supplying Borg Queen with your children will be provided in the form of self-created paper money based on an arbitrary double standard - or our new BitCoin crypto-currency that floats ALL BY ITSELF - no really - IT'S TRUE! Easy money parents - you don't have to do anything - we only want your children! C'mon parents... let's get all the children exited about CODING - you will have more time and money for your selves!!! ACT NOW during our TWO children black hole special - good until then end of your gregorian calendar year 2013! Supply us with two children eg. make a deal with our black holes - and we will see to it that your credit rating get reset back to 850 AAA no questions asked! We are so POWERFUL!!!!!

Difference with other STEM? (1)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about 9 months ago | (#45630879)

What is the difference with other STEM subjects? For example, I liked learning calculus (ok, I didn't really learn calculus in the mathematics theory sense - measure theory and stuff - till grad school) in high school, though mainly I liked the use of calculus to physics (projectile motion, mechanics, electrostatics). Now, you might consider physics a "cool" application, but it really isn't - it is just as cool as say, building Pascal's triangle. If anything, I can see the results of programming almost instantaneously. I hated actually doing experiments with my hands (like proving Newton's laws using a block of wood and a weight).

So why is there this perceived need to make "coding" fun? It is as fun as any other subject in STEM, no more, no less (blowing things up in the chemistry lab is different; now that was cool. I thought - rightly or wrongly - that I had no aptitude for it because I couldn't figure out (at a high school level) what might happen on paper before doing the experiment for most things, like flame colors or what might give the best explosion).

Exctite them by making it *fun* (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#45631023)

Coding can be fun.

I think the problem lies in how we define the act of "coding" and in what context we present the activity, combined with a misunderstanding of what people actually think is "fun".

Coding is a powerful tool. It is how humans control virtually all complex machines.

Kids love complex machines, but I think the break point is what machines we teach them to program and what behaviors the programming automates.

People, especially kids, like playing video games, so it stands to reason that teaching them to program their own game would be an excellent way to get them into coding. It totally makes sense. I'm not saying not to do it, but it's not working as TFA points out. For one thing, making a simple "game" in an artificial environment isn't actually that fun...because teaching kids to make their own version of "Starcraft" is way too complex there aren't many options.

I think coding simple machines is the solution, enabling more creativity and real-world interaction, without losing the coding aspect. For example, coding a basic motion sensor that makes an output.

You can get basic light/motion sensors for fairly cheap actually (toys have them) and combine that with an output that either triggers something to play a sound, turn on a light, etc.

A next step would be using a rasperry pi type interface...then linking it with all kinds of stuff...

Advanced lessons would be making a motion detector that turned on a light, turned on a radio, and triggered a program on a computer to send a tweet...

Something like that would give them the basic tools to really go crazy...

News Flash: Game programming less boring (1)

Lendrick (314723) | about 9 months ago | (#45631029)

Most people get into programming in their childhood do it because they want to make games. Why did it take a research study to figure this out that writing games is less dry and dull than dumping someone into Java's cargo cult boilerplate class definitions and telling them to write hello world?

I would venture to say that making games is a good way to teach adults how to program, too.

Ehh.. not sure (1)

danheskett (178529) | about 9 months ago | (#45631101)

I saw the posters at my kids school and I am was unconvinced this is a good idea.

Programming / coding is a lot of things, and it's different to a lot of people. But the idea of teaching it by discussing game design really strikes me as a bad idea, for a lot of reasons:

1. Game design is inherently difficult. I mean, it's an art and science, and it is multi-discipline. After an hour, or ten hours, or whatever, you aren't going to have a lot to show for your efforts. Games designed and built by large teams of skilled programmers often fail to complete. Even a simple game requires substantial

2. Most programmers are not going to be doing game development. Or even game development. It's like trying to educate you on medicine by bringing in a surgeon to talk about remote micro-surgery. Sure, you could be the 1/100th of all doctors who are involved in that field. But chances are if you become a doctor it will be a GP.

3. The goal of getting more kids into programming, I would imagine, is to get kids to become programmers to do useful things. Games are a nice slice of entertainment, but in the big picture, except for the individuals, no one is really better off because of a new game being developed. If we as a country/specifies/whatever want more programmers, it should be to be more productive, to have a better economy, etc. We don't want/need more programmers for the next Candy Crush. That's a side benefit. Not a purpose.

Teach practical solutions to real-world problems. (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 9 months ago | (#45631117)

Teach the kids how to write a labor-saving screenscraping app that automatically logs into an adult website and in a short amount of time downloads an unthinkable amount of Pr0n.

Coding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45631271)

There is NOTHING exciting about coding. Please protect the kids!

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