But…not everybody is going to become a programmer.

Oh. So history matters because we’ll all be historians? Kids need chemistry because all of them will be chemists? High school French is important because will become the ambassador to France?

If you’re saying that as a hint at a larger argument that maybe, probably, most of us aren’t entirely sure why high schools have the graduation requirements they do, then yes, by all means, let’s have that conversation.

But for this subject, I can point to concrete reasons. Jobs is part of it, yes, but another part is that even people who don’t do it professionally may be well served by being able to create themselves a website or application. And the bigger picture is that computation is happening in every field, and even if you’re not the one doing it, you’re well-served by being able to understand what’s being computed and why. Does it mean say that we’re focused on critical thinking when we’re missing a giant swath of background knowledge to think critically about? 

And that’s not to mention day-to-day life: In the face of recent credit card information theft, can you really argue that raising the average level of American tech savvy would be a waste of time, or that we wouldn’t do well to know just a little bit more about keeping ourselves and our identities safe online? By continuing to regard programming as a superpower rather than a basic skill, we put ourselves at the mercy of those who choose to use those powers for evil. That seems like reason enough to me.

—————-

Update: When I wrote the above paragraph, I hadn’t yet seen this: Americans are, in fact, more afraid of being hacked than of being murdered. Granted, that’s based on self-reported frequency of fearing something rather than intensity of fear, and I imagine having information stolen crosses most people’s minds any time they use a debit card, or whenever they walk into Target, Home Depot, or any other recently breached business, whereas most of us have fewer day-to-day reminders that homicides happen. Still, it seems telling. Keep yourself safe!

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