Folks in the AVC community are well aware of my passion and energy for bringing programming education and curriculum into our classrooms, both at the K12 and Higher Education levels. I feel like good things are starting to happen but we need to do so much more. We are not aligning the needs of the 21st century workforce with the skills we are teaching in our classrooms and that is a big mistake.

Congress has endorsed the week containing December 9th as Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) to recognize the critical role of computing in today’s society and the imperative to bolster computer science education at all levels. I am involved in some local efforts in NYC around CSEdWeek and I would like to highlight it to all of you because it is coming up.

The CSEdWeek website has resources for all the key consituents in this effort. Look for the box on the website that looks like this:


You can also sign the pledge for CSEdWeek. I just did that.

But most importantly, you can celebrate CSEdWeek in your school, your community, your company, and anywhere else you think it is relevant. This is at its core a movement by regular people trying to stimulate change in our education systems and help them make needed changes.

My partner Albert posted yesterday about what he is doing in his kids' school. It is efforts like that, which many of you have also taken on, that will bring the change we need. And that is what CSEdWeek is all about.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. Tim Huntley

    Signed the pledge. My twin boys, soon to be 10, are very interested in learning to program, so I have been looking for ways to cultivate that interest.

  2. Joe Yevoli

    Signed the pledge. This a great cause, Fred. I’m trying to get my little brothers and sister to learn to code. It should definitely be taught in schools.

  3. awaldstein

    The greater the connection between education, innovation and work, the brighter the future will be.This is a great passion of yours Fred. Congrats!

  4. sthomaspan

    I think this is a fantastic initiative. Makes me want to look back 10 years and tell my younger self to stick with comp sci. Once you realize how crucial programming knowledge is to business development and exploration in the Internet sector, you start to wish you had started studying it years ago.

  5. kidmercury

    it’s great that you’re passionate about it. i support people pursuing their passions.i don’t think there is some grand crisis surrounding computer education in schools, though. even if there was, i think schools suck and aren’t going to do a good job no matter how many holidays congress creates (i am grateful this initative gets congress to focus on passing holidays rather than their other favorite pastime — passing laws/taxes). smartphones are in the process of becoming pervasive and that will solve whatever education problems there may be, assuming there are any at all. this stuff also evolves way too fast for monolithic institutions like schools to ever keep up. codeacademy and all that type of stuff, as well as self-education and personalized mentoring, is way better.there are also other subjects i feel are suffering from an education shortage far more than comp sci is. such as:kookologyhistorymonetary economicsgeologyphysicsgenetics/gene therapyurban planning

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith


    2. takingpitches

      It’s probably a small net positive effort, but I doubt that most K-12 schools (other than specialized schools like Fred discussed a few days ago) will do a good job.Congress should declare a “Teach Kids How to Teach Themselves” Week and give kids a week off. That would be a much more useful effort in the world with all the available knowledge out there.

    3. Tom Labus

      Financial history of the US.Kids know zip about history!

    4. Carl Rahn Griffith

      My wife teaches – problem seems to be that for many over here at least, getting many kids to the minimum reading/writing/maths levels precludes time being spent on the other stuff – which is ironically the really ‘big’ stuff in life and not as binary, so even more important.Ah well…

    5. kidmercury

      oh yeah, also, agriculture and water sciences. the world is now consuming more food than it produces on an annual basis. this is unsustainable……technology can help deal with “peak everything” and allocate resources of all kinds more efficiently to avert scarcity, though it will take more than software — much more.

      1. Wavelengths

        Go see Gotham Gal’s blog for today for some inspiration.

        1. kidmercury

          that’s great i’m planning on getting a window farm for my apartment

          1. Wavelengths

            I love the LED lights. Are they really delivering full-spectrum light? Or do they just look pretty.I can’t think of a better set of curtains for an apartment. πŸ™‚

          2. panterosa,

            No kidding on the LED lights and the best curtain ever!! I design lighting arrangements for fun. Having live stuff in those things is +100.I saw the AMNH show and knew about Windowfarms. So cool. I grow stuff on my terrace, so this is great for winter.

        2. fredwilson

          I do that daily!

          1. Wavelengths


          2. ShanaC


        3. Donna Brewington White

          That’s amazing.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Good points – these are the very areas my wife teaches in. I love it – wish I could become a student!

        1. Richard

          why dont you?

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Good point, Rich. I may as well, actually, lol πŸ˜‰

          2. Richard

            Just be prepared because your mind will play tricks on you during those 10 hours a week in class and have you thinking that you are in your 20’s πŸ™‚

          3. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Lol, no danger of that – my imagination is pretty good but not THAT good! πŸ˜‰

      3. Richard

        50% of food in the US ends up in a landfill, 50%!

        1. panterosa,

          Our Global Table at AMNH shows up the huge waste. It so depresses me that to many go hungry, others are obese, and food is wasted. We suck.I do wish composting would catch on more. I grow great plants with help from my compost.

          1. Richard

            Yep, and this food is numero uno in taking up space in our landfills and uses 10% of our water. Its irresponsible to leave your engine running while you go shopping just so the car is warm or cool and likewise it should be viewed equally irresponsible to “pig out” both when purchasing and/or consuming food.

        2. JamesHRH


      4. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        you got my vote on all the above but especially agriculture and water sciences. These are big issues and science and technology have a huge part to play in them

      5. Donna Brewington White

        Much more. Yes, Kid, yes.You listed some disciplines of vital importance, especially as some have to do with sustainability of the human species. There is also the importance of knowing how to create at an essential level — new structures, ways of being — rather than producing within those structures. Although the latter is important.

    6. JamesHRH

      Interestingly Kid, this dire prediction of the future does not focus on technology, but on fundamental commodities……http://www.water-energy-food.org/e…If @fredwilson:disqus is saying that programming can avoid this, i won’t say ‘No’. But I think harder sciences are the more pressing need at the moment.

      1. kidmercury

        i do think software engineering can avoid this in that it can help greatly with resource sharing — stuff like airbnb and getaround are early stage examples. but i agree hard sciences are way more urgent. it’s also worth noting that hard sciences are difficult to learn on your own; i.e. to do a lot of deep work in biology, geology, physics you really need expensive labs and hands on time. meanwhile, to learn software engineering you need a cheap computer. plus comp sci is glamorous now, so i’m really skeptical of the idea there’s a shortage. zuckerberg has a movie with A-list hollywood talent and global distribution. when was the last time you saw a major motion picture about a geologist?

        1. JamesHRH

          I am going to blow sunshine up your skirt here:This comment is righteously on the money.

  6. William Mougayar

    Programming is the new Math .Β Yes, especially the tech entrepreneurs who should get involved in their local high-schools to promote this agenda, and get invited to speak to students about it. Β 

    1. Nate Quigley

      “Programming is the new Math.” Cool idea. If nothing else, it’s a great way to show how math concepts can be applied to real world contexts a kid could get excited about. Math a gateway to programming. Programming a context that makes me want to learn about math.

    2. Richard

      William, i can’t buy into “programming is the new math”; on many levels. Even at Computer Science’s most fundamental level of understanding how base 2 makes the whole system work, math is math.

      1. Wavelengths

        I remember when I first learned about negative numbers. And “saw” concepts in math that defied description in words. Yep, math is math.

      2. JamesHRH

        Agreed. I have a Math degree & I can’t “DO” math.I was walking out of a second year differential equations class with a mature student from the Soviet Union (dating myself here). He says to me:’ You know, when we are working with 2 or 3 variables, I can see the surfaces that the equations are describing. But, when we add the fourth variable, I struggle to see the changes in the surface, over time. ‘I thought: ‘ getting a Math degree is a dumb way to get to law school. ‘Don’t get me wrong, I think SW is a highly abstract discipline, but it is mimicry, not art.

        1. William Mougayar

          Math helped you understand physics, civil/mech/ee engineering.Programming is a direct enabler of ideas & businesses. It empowers the INDIVIDUAL.

          1. JamesHRH

            I don’t agree, respectfully.Math is a language that describes the most granular level of existence. Programming is not.Math works in an area where the potential impact is orders of magnitude larger.No math means no idea how to get to the moon. No programming means no tools to hep you make the trip.

          2. kidmercury

            siding with james in this beef. to compare programming to math is like comparing the latest video game console from nintendo to a multi-dimensional universe life forms inhabit. no comparison. math trumps comp sci any day of the week.

          3. Dave W Baldwin

            The problem William is the age group. Using the analogy of music, you have two types of people, those who play by ear (figured it out) and those that can spit out all sorts of terminologies regarding the chord progression (Tonic, Dominant or I, V) which usually digresses into note reading and limit philosophical/experimentation.Allowing more kids to understand Concept vs. too much terminology allows greater impact via hands on showing They Can.

      3. William Mougayar

        πŸ™‚ I think you know what I mean. Whereas there was a special emphasis on math as the key lever to science/engineering/technical careers, Programming should have its place in being increasingly more important especially if it gets taught earlier and earlier.

    3. jason wright

      Lp is the new lingua franca.

    4. ShanaC

      Programming is just showing how weak the math curriculum is. Technically speaking programming IS math (specifically algebra and logic, though I have seen elements of trig interplayed in as well).We don’t force kids to do logic tables often enough, or proofs. If you understood both of those, you will have a much easier time learning to program (language complications besides)

    5. raycote

      Its not just about hard-math computer programming. It is about the emergence of a new social paradigm for visualizing, speaking about and acting upon our physical and abstracted social realities/spaces.At its most generic, programming is about authoring sequenced interplay between reusable data objects(stuff) and process objects(actions on stuff). In natural language it is about sentences used to program the interplay between reusable nouns and verbs.In a way humans with their extended powers of abstract cognitive volition are nature’s ultimate mobile programming units, despite the supporting math being hidden deep down in the biochemical engine room.Even without access to the underlying biochemical math most of us manage, for better or worse, to go around seriously reprogramming and rewiring our worlds.It seems that natures biochemical layer-cake of cellular programming platforms has evolved in such a way as to hide the biochemical-math-variables while preserving the abstracted volitional programming functionality all the way up to the persona level.As Allen Watts liked to point out, for all our lack of knowledge about the underlying biology involved, we can all program a sequence of arm movements as effectively as any physiology expert .The evolutionary history of programming platforms, be they biological or human computation, extend their general-purpose tour-de-force by hiding the math-variables in the basement under layers of abstraction.Hiding the math-variables in the basement while evolving and maintaining effective high-level abstract-linguistic-linkages to them is what amplifies and accelerates all forms of biological, mathematical and human-natural-language programming utility.Hard-math computer science makes it possible for us to produce a formal cognitive electronic-analogue to that deep down in the biochemical-math engine room that facilitates our highly abstracted conscious personas.Sorry all this long winded preamble is just to say:Abstracted programming languages, attitudes, tools and techniques must effectively map onto and merge with everyday natural-language in an isomorphic hi-fidelity way if we are to succeed at merging programming-evolution with educational goals.The perceptual-ergonomics delivered via the language, attitudes, tools and techniques that ride in on the coattails of Mobile Apps and Social-Networking are now facilitating a slow informal coagulation of natural-language and programable-culture into a new unified programable-culture paradigm.A more formal effort to inject the language, attitudes, tools and techniques of recombinant programability into everyday mass-culture at every level should include even the math-illiterates.Creating network synchronized, reusable, programmed-social-processes is presently constrained to the computer science networking-math crowd that operates at the enabling foundational-engineering room levels.The rest of us are stuck here waiting for those high level enabling tools to reach up into our world of mass-social-utilty with social-process assemblers that operate like the word processors and automated blogging breakthroughs of old.I know Feed is focused on producing more computer science coding engineers and at this stage of the game that is paramount. But fairly soon these low-level enableling layers will become highly automated.Enabling average grade school kids to think and operate within a math-free language-driven programable-culture paradigm is also important.The evolution of an effective programable-culture-paradigm is best facilitated by ongoing efforts to align the symmetry between bottom-up computer science math and top-down process based natural language.iPad Tablet based porgramming tools that enable kids to assemble programable social-interaction building-blocks that manipulate activities that are of interest to them with simply recombinant process-based natural-language modelled after the ifttt.com website would be a good start.

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        You are correct combining that with @shana reference to logic. More important to exploring concept and formula due to self programming machine coming related to student moving through early adulthood.

    6. Donna Brewington White

      Never been much of a mathematician — overloaded on statistics — which I did grasp — so that I didn’t feel like a complete idiot in the numbers realm. But I valued mathematical education because I felt like my mind was stretching — even if painfully. I wonder if programming has that same effect. Although if I finally start codecademy (and I fully intend to) I may be able to answer my own question.

    7. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      I just down voted your comment for the statement ‘programming is the new Math’. It sounds catchy but totally absurd.I do agree that programming has to be part of early curriculum but calling it the new-math is not correct.I have one experience with programming … when i could not understand many of the math i looked at the programs written by someone which does the same math in some language the stupid puter can understand. There was this library in FORTRAN called NAG which helped me understand Math. Fourier Transform, FFT, Radon Transform, Laplace transform, calculus, partial differential equation …. etc., etc., Which by the way was too hard for me to understand looking at those equations and the related….even after spending years with the teachers and professors.Programming can be used to understand math as stepping stone … but cannot be equated to math.The proof is simple … programs are written for a machine to understand the math and perform the analysis … if a student reads it with a flair for math will definitely master it in few-weeks which would take few years.In fact Math teachers can use programs to make kids understand Math EASIER and not other way around ….Is programming the new Math.So NOT. Math is the mother of all science and programming is just a foster son to computer-science and btw, comp-sci itself is one generation down of Math.sorry for the rant could not stop….probably because i had the same rant on a junior programmer an hour ago… and asked to learn little bit of optics before entering into that project of capturing X-ray images.

    8. Cam MacRae

      Know what we need to teach kids in school? Math. And I don’t mean tick-the correct-answer-to-a-problem-you’ve-seen-100x-before-on-a-standardised-test type math. I mean encounter-a-novel-problem-and-work-that-shit-out-for-yourself type math.Perhaps then, and only then, will we stop wasting the first year (or two) of an undergraduate degree teaching K-12 math.Programming has a role to play here; you need only find the inverse of a 3×3 matrix by hand once in your life, after all.But programming is not the new math. Heck, if we take the CSEdWeek’s expansive definition, Comp. Sci. isn’t even the new Comp. Sci. (let alone the new math).

  7. Rohan

    This is a day late.. but here’s my interview with our own William for all those interested – http://www.alearningaday.co… πŸ™‚

  8. Nate Quigley

    My 11 year old is homeschooling this year for a number of reasons. Using the Florida Virtual School online curriculum. Working great. Love the flexibility Florida schools offer parents.He gets through the “normal” curriculum quickly each morning, then clicks over to Kahn Academy and works on programming. Going through tutorials. Asks questions, comments. Copies/pastes code and adapts to figure out how to make games he wants to build work. Then he plays soccer.Totally self-directed and he’s totally into it. Seems like the future.

    1. kidmercury

      yup that’s totally the future. congrats on being a pioneer!

      1. Nate Quigley

        it’s pretty awesome to see. agree w Fred’s comment above that it’s working because my wife and I are helping him and supporting him, even as we’re trying to stay out of the way and let him drive. tough to figure out how to replace that for kids in tougher situations.

        1. kidmercury

          families dont have enough money to give kids the right lifestyle, that is in my opinion the only problem. there isnt sufficient market incentive or the right culture because of public schooling. i think if these barriers were removed all the necessary solutions would organically emerge.

          1. Wavelengths

            “parents don’t have enough money …”For the most part, I think this is true. When it takes two parents working two or three jobs to keep shelter and food, there is little left over for real parenting time. And that’s without frivolous spending on so-called luxuries. The economy and the death of decent-paying jobs in trades and manufacturing are part of it. Here in West Texas, it’s boom times, but the jobs are in trucking and oil-field work. People live in trailers and RVs because there isn’t enough housing. While, of course, there are empty houses and schools in other parts of the country.Then, of course, there are also the limitations of what the parents know that they can share with their kids to propel them forward.I’d love to see some new models in education. I’m with you on this.

    2. fredwilson

      For self directed kids it is the present not the future. We need to figure out the related model for kids who can’t do it themselves

      1. Nate Quigley

        I wonder if school becomes more like virtual school. teachers become more like parents in virtual school. computers and displays don’t need to get that much cheaper to imagine one at every desk.

        1. Nate Quigley

          that is so cool… all of that freedom and time to pursue interests is what makes homeschool so great.

      2. Ben Kamens

        Have seen the beginnings of really exciting possible models in schools we’re working w/ out in CA.The future is far away, but we’ve seen some *impressive* risk-taking by schools and administrators finding ways to model this same behavior in kids traditionally not considered “self-directed.”Early days, but that’s ok.

        1. David

          Ben,are you able to share more? Would love to hear about some of the methods on which you’re team at KA is working.

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            Thanks for link/reminder- would be good for everyone to get Khan’s book and donate it to school library.

      3. Dave W Baldwin

        Doing this from phone, this works easier: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1… unbelievable! It has left and right fingerprints all over it. Requires arms both left and right to knock it down.

        1. Wavelengths

          Absolutely shocking! Everyone here should look at this.As has been said many times, innocence is no defense. What does it mean if anyone can take a look at any of our online communications and re-interpret our private thoughts to suit possibly malicious ends? Does sarcasm or irony look like a real threat? Of course! Especially when interpreted by those who choose to add their own spin.

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            …and you are trying to communicate programming language to someone(s)… This sets progress back!

        2. kidmercury

          people get what they vote for. they wanted to vote for the same stuff over and over again, and so they get the same stuff over and over again. looks like we as a society are choosing to learn this one the hard way.

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            Somehow SOPA was defeated (Obama changed and threatened veto) along with other versions. Everyone needs to push and get as many to send opinion to their Senators. The opinion needs to be short, to the point and polite.

        3. raycote

          News Flash!Senate bill rewrite is 28 years late!

    3. ShanaC

      how are you finding the kahn academy work for computer programming?

      1. Nate Quigley

        I don’t know enough to really do a good analysis. I’m just getting started with CodeAcademy myself. He seems to really like it though. I think he likes all the samples and the Questions feature.

    4. matthughes

      That sounds like ‘the life’.

  9. Dave W Baldwin

    Signed the pledge. The website is great!This is an important push, going beyond the art of programming. IMHO, the teaching of theory/outline is just as important, removing the ‘fear’ which throws up walls. The student who is moving into the machinery arena needs to understand automation which can remove the “Us vs. Them” mentality encouraging the cross channel.

  10. thinkdisruptive

    The effectiveness of education is much more a function of parenting than any other factor. Most teachers suck. Most educational programs go too slow and are too poorly designed to hold the interest of a child. Yet, if the parents are involved, helping and communicating how important learning (and learning to learn) is, the kids will excel.I think if we could make it as cool to perform well in school (at anything, not just math and CS) as it is to know the words and moves to the latest hip-hop video, then the problem would be solved. Technology is a tool, and it helps, but this is a people problem.

    1. fredwilson

      So true. I spent 60-90 mins with Josh last night helping him put together an outline for his final econ paper. I can’t imagine a better use of my time.

  11. john

    My daughter is attending her first high school robotics club competition this weekend. She is working with her team to finish to up assembling and programming their robot to compete against several other high school teams this Saturday. They need to build and program a robot to complete a number tasks in an obstacle course for this competition.

    1. ShanaC


    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Very good. This is 4th year in our are doing FIRST Tech and coming on 2nd with FIRST Robotics! We’ve managed to send a team each year to World. It is cool to see their minds whirl as they take in other student’s engineering ideas.

  12. Richard

    I,of course, think you are spot on in making programming a must have skill set for all K12 students. As you know the difference in salary between a someone with a Masters degree in fiance with computing skills and one without can be as much as 200K, a year! Why not introduce new a new term for this field. Rather than call it Computer Science, maybe it can be referred to as its (Bachelor of Arts) cousin, “Applied Computing” or “Computing Arts”?

  13. ShanaC

    Signed, but it won’t do much of a difference without lobbying to make sure comp sci is included in Common Core.

    1. Leigh Ann Sudol-DeLyser

      Shana, The Computing in the Core movement (which is one of the sponsors of CS Education Week) is working on that right now! The more pledges we get, the more involvement from outside the education infrastructure, the more likely we are to move this forward.Take a look at the Running on Empty report (http://www.acm.org/runningo… for our initial analysis of the space and what is recommended for change.

  14. matthughes

    “This is at its core a movement by regular people trying to stimulate change in our education systems and help them make needed changes.”I love this. Kudos.

  15. leigh

    I actually struggle with the computer sciences programs in school. With physical education, music and art being cut, I figure that most kids will learn about 80% of what they need to know through experience. Problem solving, creativity etc. which to me is the foundation of great tech, doesn’t start with computers or learning programming (and now of course there is code academy booyah) . Not questioning the effort or end goal just wondering is “computer science teaching” is the way to go …..

  16. jason wright

    Fred, is there a way to receive a timely notification when you publish a new post here?

    1. fredwilson

      YesClick on the RSS buttonRSS to email is an option

      1. jason wright

        got it. thx.

  17. Drew Meyers

    Totally random idea, related to programming education for youth — does anyone know of an individual or organization that would be interested in helping a group of high school or college students run an actual web design business? I firmly believe that the best skills & knowledge are learned by doing things in the real world. Running a web design business would give kids great insights into design, development, client management, as well as the marketing and accounting side of things.I have a web design brand (Esm exec designs) I’m looking to “give” to the right individual or organization, and would serve as an advisor to help guide it – I just don’t have the bandwidth to run the entire company & organize the kids (I’m building a different web startup now). I know there is an individual or organization who would be a great partner, I just don’t know where to look…

  18. Emily Merkle

    Fred, This is right up my alley. I am working on a curriculum reform / tech initiative. Rough outline here: http://thinklovelead.com. Early days.

    1. fredwilson

      thanksi will check it out