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Should All Children Learn to Code by the End of High School?

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Artist's impression of a student learning to code.

Robert Sedgewick at Princeton University argues that proficiency in coding is good for students and society in the 21st century. Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, says public schools should not be turned into job-train

Credit: Giacomo Bagnara

At every high school, students are required to show proficiency in certain subjects to graduate. Now there's a push to include computer coding as one of those subjects.

The idea is that such a skill will be invaluable in a world that increasingly runs on computer technology. What's more, many companies report shortages of workers with programming skills.

Nearly 20 states have already passed legislation requiring public schools to make computer-science classes accessible to high-school students, according to, a nonprofit founded by tech investors that says coding and other computer skills should be seen as essential in the 21st century.

Policies on computer-science education in public schools vary by state and school district.

Critics don't like the fact that many of the leading advocates have direct ties to the tech industry—companies that would arguably benefit most from a bigger pool of job applicants with software-writing skills.

They also argue that adding a coding requirement for graduation is at odds with the very purpose of public education, and its focus on humanistic values.

From The Wall Street Journal
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Alan Swithenbank

While I don't think everyone learning to code is a bad idea. I do think learning critical-thinking in general is more important. And, coding in an of itself doesn't teach that. It's something sorely lacking in education these days.

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