Hour Of Code

This is CS Ed Week and this year we are celebrating it with an Hour Of Code. The idea is to get every student to spend an hour this week writing code. 

If you want to do this with your kids (at home or in school), here are some resources to try:

The Codecademy Hour of Code iPhone app - download this on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and learn the basics of coding in an hour. As many of you know, Codecademy is a USV portfolio company and millions of people have used Codecademy to start learning to code.

Code.org – Code.org has built tutorials for teachers who want to do an hour of code in their classrooms. Code.org is a non-profit dedicated to bringing CS to schools all around the country and they are leading the Hour Of Code effort nationwide.

Other resources – there are a host of resources out there, like Scratch, Scalable Game Design, CodeHS, Globaloria, and Tynker that you can use to teach the hour of code to your students.

In other CS Ed news, Obama endorsed CS Ed and the Hour Of Code in this video yesterday.

And the city of Chicago announced that they will integrate CS Ed broadly in their schools so that every student gets the opportunity to learn coding skills.

And last but not least, in NYC, Chancellor Wolcott announced a $1mm program to train over 100 teachers in the code.org curriculcum. This program is a partnership between CSNYC, Code.org, NYC EDC, and NYC DOE, all of which participated in the funding. If you want to help support this effort, we are raising money for CSNYC so that we can fund more programs like this in NYC. Our crowdrise fundraising page is here.

Yesterday was a big day for CS Ed. Everyone should celebrate CS Ed week by doing an hour of code with your kids. This is an important effort that is now getting the attention it deserves. 

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. JoshGrot

    Love this! … our whole family is going to do this together. (Also, just rec’d the Khan Academy invite to code a Holiday Card…)Now if only I could convince the Charter School on whose Board I serve, that having hands-on programming experience (even if one doesn’t become a developer…not to mention an IT professional) is as important as knowing any conventional language like Chinese or Spanish: the NYC schools seem to be way ahead of the curve in this regard.Thanks Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      We just have to keep making the case Josh

      1. Robert Holtz

        This whole initiative is just fantastic. Yesterday, I was in town visiting with my mother (and I had a Macbook Air with me). I saw the link on Google’s home page and said to her (almost in jest), “Would you like to learn how to code today?” She seemed stunned at the offer but I proceeded to step through the first lesson with her. She completed all 20 puzzles and got her little Certificate of Completion. My mother is decisively low-tech but she was fully able to grasp all the major concepts and had an unmistakeable genuine sense of accomplishment after she completed the introductory lesson. The whole project is just very well conceived and executed. It really allows people to feel empowered and even a bit inspired. I am so impressed by the entire experience.

    2. panterosa,

      We don’t have the specific use case equivalent to the invaluable knowing of Spanish to talk to the builder to get the job right, but using code to fix the x will be a future thing.

    3. Matt Candler

      Josh, what school? We’re building a big network of teachers and principals who are starting to buy in. We might be able to help encourage them.Matt

      1. JoshGrot

        Matt — thanks for reaching out (I enjoy your posts).For the past 2 years I’ve been serving on the Board of Trustees of the Weilenmann charter school in Park City, Utah. Is that outside your current geographic reach?Also, apropos some of your other posts, I’m on the Board of a not-for profit called SHIFT (which was started by Rick Wray who had started Spy Hop), whose primary mission is to train K-12 teachers in how to integrate digital media, video, and computer programming into their classroom. Would love to talk to you about that as well if it’s up your alley.Thanks again.

        1. Matt Candler

          Josh, good to hear from you. Right back at on your posts. We’ve got folks from all over US coming to our Launch program (http://4pt0.org/launch). We could help the school design a very doable prototype to push the school to adopt faster, introduce them to others embracing it. We can also share some lessons from our upcoming pilot with Khan Academy.I am very interested in talking about SHIFT (looks very cool). We’re starting to do more investing in teaching teachers of code/CS/media.

  2. Ben Longstaff

    I started coding in 1998, recently I did the cousera machine learning course, all up it was an investment of 120 hours to go through all the material and do the assignments.Machine learning is highly relevant for my job and an area I am really interested in, still I found I had to really push myself to make the time to finish it. Most of the concepts could be summaries in 2 minutes once you understand it.”A is for Array” is a great example of a book distilling computer science concepts into a quick easy to digest way that kids can understand the conceptsIt would be great if online learning could be condensed down into 2 minute chunks of wisdom that link to more info detail based on the context of what the use is trying to learn.120 hours is a big commitment and while I really enjoyed the course I haven’t done another, however I could spare 2 minutes every day to learn one new concept

    1. ShanaC

      Do you have a copy of the book “A for Array”

      1. Ben Longstaff

        Hi Shana its available on amazon, it has a decent amount of the content available to view in the look inside previewhttp://www.amazon.com/A-Arr…

  3. leigh

    I should get the 5 yr old coding. Kinda like LEGO but better.

    1. panterosa,

      Robot Turtles? LittleBits?

    2. ShanaC

      scratch? Can the five year old read yet (important for some coding programs)

    3. Matt A. Myers

      What I’d like to see are games where you lead into situations where sharing and compassion are taught. I am sure there are more than include sharing within them, maybe not so much compassion – though I’ve not looked or played with what’s out there…. can’t wait until I have the financial means to support a family..

  4. JimHirshfield

    I was psyched to hear they’re doing this in my children’s school. FTW!

  5. pointsnfigures

    I was happy to see Chicago change their standards. This is good for everyone and recognizes that the world is changing. I remember going into a computer lab by myself to try and teach myself how to work a computer (1980). There was no one there to teach me, and no mentorship. It’s a lot different today and it’s only going to get better. That’s a good thing.

    1. andyswan

      We had a class where we learned Microsoft Office products. I had a cool teacher who let the 4 of us who already used it all the time sit on our own and work on a single self-defined project for the semester.I wish I still had a copy of that Microsoft Excel blackjack simulator with risk/reward odds on every decision. Hahaha #degenerate

      1. pointsnfigures

        Mine would always double. Heh. @le these were far different times. No blogs no free access. I was taking 20 hours and playing hoop. Not a lot of time.In my junior yr I took a CS105 class. We programmed on punch cards using Fortran. Endless do loops were real….I am a pull yourself up by your bootstrap guy- but in those days if you weren’t in the right place you weren’t going to get mentoring.

    2. LE

      There was no one there to teach me, and no mentorship. It’s a lot different today and it’s only going to get better.Not sure I agree because I see much value in overcoming adversity and figuring things out on your own. Without someone to ask or to help you. Or even to point you in the right direction. Builds confidence. [1] One of the times you can do this is when you are a kid and have so much time on your hands and no real deadlines. (Not the same when you are older typically)There are some things that you can’t learn on your own (typically something physical like Karate or something dangerous where you could hurt yourself or a musical instrument) but programming is something you can absolutely learn (to the degree we are talking about here “exposure”) without the help of anyone. Especially today with all the help and answers on the web (which I don’t think really helps with overcoming adversity by the way it makes people lazy).[1] I was watching some entrepreneur show the other day and there were two women in an office whose desks were near each other. I mean I can’t imagine having a desk next to someone else or having or ever needing to ask someone else questions on how to do things. I think it’s much more valuable to not ask questions and to figure it out on your own. Not that there are times that you can’t (like if you are a Starbucks barista you are going to have to ask how to make the drink or get trained etc.) School of hard knocks and all of that. If you are an entrepreneur you are always confronted with situations to which there are no clear cut answers and you will have to figure it out on the fly.

  6. William Mougayar

    This is such an important and big trend that I think it almost needs a quarterly recall. High-schools are the right breeding ground to start learning how to code, whether you become a programmer or not. Just as we don’t all become authors and writers just because we learned how to write and read in high-school.It’s kind of weird that we look at “coding” as this strange beast today. I look forward to the day when the Hour of Code is abolished because it will become normal and part of the standard curriculum.

    1. andyswan

      Great point. Our kids’ school has a zero-technology policy in the classroom…which I know some may disagree with but personally I love.Instead, every lesson is centered around Math, Science or Latin. Reason & Logic. I believe this is in the same vein as you are suggesting, and the results speak for themselves.

      1. Elia Freedman

        I think your school is really missing out, Andy. You should see what my daughters’ elementary school is doing with technology. The teachers do an amazing job of reinforcing comprehension, communication and all the skills they will need as adults.

        1. andyswan

          Parents do tech at home. They only go three days/week and they keep tuition low by focusing on the old school instead of smartboards for dumb kids. We dig it.

          1. Elia Freedman

            Completely agree about smartboards. What a stupid waste of money. Our kids have iPads at school. They don’t use them all the time, but also mostly in upper elementary. My 5 and 7 year olds don’t use them yet, not in school anyway. So maybe your kids are too young still? That’s a good point as I didn’t ask their ages.

          2. andyswan

            1st and 2nd grade but it’s a K-12 policy

          3. ShanaC

            but how are they covering some of the modern science stuff? AP Bio requires some tech for the required labs.

      2. PhilipSugar

        Mine is close with the math, science, and latin but adds a very large dose of grammar, sentence construction, comprehension, and composition.They too have very little technology in the classroom but do have a computer library where they teach programming.I think some of the pushback (like the NYTimes Article Fred was miffed about) is that putting technology into a school where the parents don’t care or worse are not present with kids that not only don’t have good role models but worse look up to those that glamorize a prison culture is not going to fix one damn thing.So yes I agree that we let politicians get off easy when they just say we need to spend more money, get computers, etc. Its easy to just say here is a test number, not what are people actually doing which is amazing at the top level STEM Universities, sad that a majority of the students are foreigners but that is who wants to do the hard work and we should welcome them with open arms and green cards.But I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, all kids need to be exposed because it is a part of our life if we just say I don’t care how it works will relegate you to a second class citizen no different than if you don’t have a skill and are wondering why you are now thrust into the wage pool with all of the worlds citizens.So in summary I think its great to pick one cause and move it forward, I respect that and celebrate that. Its just that nobody likes to discuss my third paragraph because that requires soul searching and self awareness to realize that I cannot solve your problem, only you can solve that problem, I can just do things like Fred is doing which is much more than most, but we should not accept this from our leaders whose job it is to lead all people.This is no different when I hear people chant, and chant, I need to change the way I have people work to adapt to the new generation which wants to do only what they want, etc. No different than a child that is bugging you to do something and think maybe if they say it enough it will come true. Guess what last time I looked I sign the front of checks not the back. And every Politician and Government Worker better remember that especially means theirs. For right now this relatively old guy is willing to keep kicking the youngsters asses and dodge the politicians obstructions……….but maybe that won’t last forever.How is that for a rant?

      3. Cam MacRae

        Do they tie in other branches of philosophy, or just logic?Impressed to see that the hour of code people had a nice offline module here: http://code.org/files/CSEDr

    2. JamesHRH

      really? I just am not seeing this at all.Cry for help, obv.

      1. William Mougayar

        can you elaborate?

        1. JamesHRH

          Sure.The Industrial revolution happens – did everybody learn to forge steel?The Petroleum revolution happens – did everybody learn to refine crude?But the Information revolution happens and everybody needs to learn how to handle bits?I don’t see it.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Think of it as learning to read and write.

          2. Guest

            What’s wrong with thinking about learning to read and write as learning to read and write?

          3. JamesHRH

            My CS lab partner is a senior exec @ GOOG.I think of it as coding.If my kids never do it, I think they will be far less handicapped in life than if they were illiterate.

    3. LE

      Well there is a difference. Writing is something that is almost absolutely essential as a skill for the real world.Coding is not.Writing is something that you learn in school and you continue to be able to do because you get practice everyday if just by reading what others have written. Not the same with coding. Coding, if not practiced on a regular basis, results in rust which gives you skills of little practical value.Look, the last time I had a darkroom was when I lived at home. A long long time ago. If you put me in a darkroom today I could develop film after 5 minutes of brush up on the timing and a few other factors. Developer, stop bath, fixer, drying. Because it’s an analog process. Programming is digital. If you don’t do it on a regular basis the rust sets it. Pretty quickly. If you are off by one character you don’t have a usuable product. Especially if you aren’t doing it everyday like a job over a long period of time. And just learned it casually.I’m not a fan of shoving programming down the throats of everyone.

      1. Harrison Weber

        It’s not about shoving anything down anyone’s throats. It’s about encouraging programming as a career because there’s demand for it, and also to help push the digital and technical literacy of our country.

        1. andyswan

          When I was in school there was a demand for lawyers.

          1. LE

            Yep. Exactly. “Coding” is hot now. The hot companies however are not interested in anyone working in the heartland who knows perl and is in their 40’s. And despite what anyone things this hasn’t been going on that long actually. It’s a good career now but all of this has been exaggerated in the last several years.Back to law. You’d be surprised that even today people missed the memo that said there is not as much opportunity in law as there was before. Was talking to some people within the last year that said they wanted their kid to be a lawyer and I said “do you know what has happened with that career?”. They had no idea.Part of the problem is that you have people going into law that have no particular passion for it other than the fact that they think of it as “professional” and a way to earn a living. Or maybe they saw it on TV. So the person who is really into it can and does get a job. It’s the “phone it in” types that are road kill.You know what a “phone it in” type is? It’s someone who does their job and does the minimum amount in order to remain in the profession. And other than that they don’t really have any curiosity or interest in the job at all. If you live and breathe and are truly interested in something you will mow down the competition unless you are a complete imblicht. (yiddish for moron).

          2. andyswan

            Exactly. At orientation for BU School of Law we were told how exciting things are for the profession– there were more people in law school today than practicing attorneys!I dropped out 6 weeks later to start a really bad website.

          3. LE

            Separately I remember when lawyers first started to be able to advertise. Before that things were much different in law.Even personal injury law is way down. I did legal photography in high school and college and literally could come back with any photographic evidence and a lawyer could make money off it. Much different today the insurance companies are fighting everything.Best case ever: Grandfather backs car tailpipe into granddaughters head and leaves a really small scar. I had to rub it to get it to even appear in the pictures.

          4. Guest

            Ironically, the legal profession is probably more ready for technological disruption (electronic discovery, predictive coding, etc etc) than any other industry in our country, yet tech is still only coming at it in fits and starts. With not much effort Google could probably displace tens of thousands of lawyers. But the revolution still hasn’t arrived. Not sure if it’s because putative entrepreneurs are anti-lawyer and don’t understand the opportunity in front of them, or what. But it’s fascinating.

      2. William Mougayar

        But good writing also takes practice and having a knack for it. So is public speaking. We can all talk, but how many can deliver a great presentation in front of 1,000 people? But at least, we all have a shot at being great speaker or authors, because we learned the basics in high school. I think that’s where the analogy is: give them an early taste of coding, and maybe they’ll want it as a profession later.

        1. LE

          we all have a shot at being great speaker or authorsHah! God knows I hope people don’t think of pursuing this path. Then we will end up with more people pursuing dreams with a fixed demand.People are already to much in the direction of “follow your passion” and not enough in the direction of “you need to earn a living and have a well paying job”.I had blood drawn this am and I was asking the phlebotomist about her job. As expected it’s a great paying (from her perspective) and her skills are very much in demand.So it pays well I said? Yes she said and she was able to negotiate a better salary than they offered as well and can work whenever she wants. Imagine that. She could negotiate on the salary. And has as close to total job security as there is. In her free time she can do other things that are fun.I really wish people would stop with all the pie in the sky dreams they have and get down to reality.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I don’t think that introducing someone to something or just giving them some exposure to it is necessarily shoving it down their throats.Kids need to be exposed to all different things to find out what resonates with them most. With something a little more challenging, like coding, it can take a few experiences before it clicks for some kids.

          2. LE

            Kids need to be exposed to all different things to find out what resonates with them most.Agree.The “shoving it down their throats.” comes from coding being the flavor of the day or maybe the decade. Not from well intentioned parents trying to expose their kids. That’s just all coming from the media.Programming has been a good career choice since the 1970’s at least. It is only now super in vogue because we have some very visible examples of people making tons of money who are at the top of the pyramid. So we have all these people (“everyone and their uncle”) jumping on that bandwagon talking about it like it’s the 2nd coming. And a sure path to big success. Of course it’s not. It’s a good career though. But now there will be plenty of competition (nursing has gone through phases like this over the past 30 years boom and bust)Most people who do programming will make a good enough living but that has always been the case.Not to mention the fact that this type of work by it’s nature can and is being done by people all over the world who have a much lower cost structure. And they are really really into this thing much more than the coddled kids of suburbia USA.

          3. ShanaC

            depends on the area in coding – some things are hard to outsource, others, not at all

          4. Richard

            People could think of investing in their careers like they should in their portfolios. 1) have a fixes income asset and 2) and high risk asset.

          5. LE

            Very true.The Joni Mitchell song “Free Man in Paris” (song was about David Geffen) said it best. “I deal with dreamers and telephone screamers”.First song on the video (love hearing the BBC intro as well):http://www.youtube.com/watc…Many comparisons can be made between the music industry and young people and what is happening in startups today.

          6. Richard

            Yep, there area many similarities. Easier to do in tech than with music. No surprise that there hasn’t been a break out band in a long time.

          7. William Mougayar

            But dreams are what breed innovation, no?I used to have this email signature 10 years ago: “Do not reason away your vision.”

      3. sigmaalgebra

        “Well there is a difference. Writing is somethingthat is almost absolutely essential as a skill forthe real world.”Coding is not.”Cruel! HOW cruel! How can you be so CRUEL!Correct? Sure. But also SO cruel!”Writing is something that you learn in school andyou continue to be able to do because you getpractice everyday if just by reading what othershave written.”Yes, reading what others have written is one of themost important ways to learn to write.Other ways are to have good access to a gooddictionary, a text on grammar, and a copy of, say,Strunk and White. Yes, can use Google for adictionary and some on grammar.Learning to write is very difficult; mostly peopledon’t get very good at it until age 30 or so. E.g.,when I was a college prof, sometimes I taught eveningschool classes with a lot of students over 30. Theday students were much better in everything exceptwriting where the evening students over 30 were muchbetter.My view of computing is that the main currentbottleneck is poor ability at technical writing — Ijoke not.”Because it’s an analog process. Programming isdigital. If you don’t do it on a regular basis therust sets it.”The needed system installation, management, andadministration for useful programming changes a lotin just 5 years and is a huge time sink.”I’m not a fan of shoving programming down thethroats of everyone.”Well, instead of wasting six years on Shakespeare,cut back one of those and teach If-Then-Else andDo-While, avoid anything like Knuth’s TACP, andconsole yourself in that did not do worse!

        1. LE

          Other ways are to have good access to a good dictionary, a text on grammar, and a copy of, say, Strunk and White. Yes, can use Google for a dictionary and some on grammar.I think the term “writing” is very broad just like “computers” is very broad.There are the things that one writes every day and the things that they might need to write where they have to be grammatically correct and perfect in every way.For example writing an op ed to the NYT as opposed to writing a sales email. Or a reply to a customer question.In the case of the former you can easily get help (very cheaply) to review your writing. It doesn’t happen that often. An imblick CEO can easily get help when he needs it. The other case it’s not practical so you have to be simply good enough to be able to write and convince others. That example to me is not a matter of writing skill in the traditional sense but of being able to sell and persuade someone to your point of view. In order to make money. God knows I wish I could show some examples of that but I can’t.To me I look at it very simply. You need to know how to write well enough (see now I was going to say “good enough”) to convince others of your point of view. As long as you are not a professional writer or editor that is. In which case you will need additional skills.Well, instead of wasting six years on ShakespeareMy guess is that that is academia’s version of difficult legal language. Exists solely to keep the existing power structure in place and to keep out outsiders. “Now here comes…” and all the latin shit. Imagine using that with paying customers.It’s funny part of the problem with some of this is that when you are told to learn it you have no interest or need to learn it.But when you get older it gets more interesting and you can see foundational things that appear in, say, movies. (Like when you watch “The Godfather” you see things that become foundational in other movies).One of the last “Shark Tank’s” it became clear that Kevin O’Reilly was reading the classics. He kept realating to some greek story. The other sharks laughed at him. I think he did that because there is a whole culture built up around successful business people (and wanna bees) that read the classics to gain business insight. Was a story w/i the last 10 years that I saw. Like those who read “The art of war”. I don’t want or need to read that though. I just learn by actually doing battle every day and creating a feedback loop and seeing what happens.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Some good points there.When I was starting with violin, Yuval Waldman,also a student, told me that he’d been told thatto be good at music, needed to know about life.Now finally I understand the wisdom of that statement; good music is heavily about life,e.g., as ‘art’ as in “communication, interpretationof human experience, emotion”. I,e,, it’s aboutHUMANS.Well, the challenges of writing are mostly notabout what’s in a dictionary, grammar text,or even Stunk and White. Instead, it’s usually crucial, even for technical writing, toknow some things, possibly a lot of things,about PEOPLE, or as in the music advice,life.> In the case of the former you can easily get help (very cheaply) to review your writing.Right, especially for what’s in a dictionary,grammar text, and Strunk and White but notso much for the crucial knowledge aboutpeople and life, or for the NYT, politics.Writing for selling or persuasion? Got toknow about people and maybe life.Write a love letter or even a little notewith some flowers? Right: Need todo well with my ‘Girls 101 for Dummies –Boys’ which I haven’t even written yet!BELIEVE ME, that’s NOT in Strunk andWhite!!!Right, Strunk and White would tell meto write more succinctly, but they didn’tknow anything about girls either!

      4. awaldstein

        I’m with @andyswan:disqus on this one.It’s not programming its logic and it’s not writing as much as it is thinking.You can argue rightfully that writing and thinking are connected, as are programming and logic.Don’t understand how to conceptualize logically, no amount of craft will help you. Well written, boring, derivative pablum is just that.The thinking behind, the person behind, the passion behind–that’s the driver to the remarkable.

      5. Ben Longstaff

        Not all adults can read and write, those that can have a lot more opportunities available to them.Learning to code is not necessarily about writing software, I believe its learning how to think in a logical structured way, once you have that skill it allows you to understand and communicate effectively with people who do.

    4. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Well said.

    5. sigmaalgebra

      Yes, perhaps everyone should learn the basics of(1) declaring variables, arrays, classes, etc.,(2) If-Then-Else,(3) Do-While,(4) Call-Return,(5) Try-Catch.However, trying to teach everyone:(1) How to use an integrated development environment(IDE).(2) Multi-threaded programming, deadlocks, monotonelocking protocol, semaphores, and transactionalintegrity.(3) Build and use dynamic link libraries (DLLs).(4) What Microsoft is doing with multi-fileassemblies, modules, and namespaces.(5) How to get a connection string that works fromcode for a Web page to an executing instance of SQLServer (Excedrin #29,393,877,732) solved by thethrow various guesses against the wall until onesticks method.(6) How to manage 10,000 servers.(7) How to manage a local area network (LAN) for10,000 servers.(8) How in such a server farm to make use of virtualmachine facilities.will prove more challenging but, sadly, withrelatively short useful lifetime unless just countthe training in enduring “barbed wire enemas”!E.g., on Windows my current collection ofdocumentation consists of about a cubic foot ofbooks, now partly out of date, and about 5000 Webpages found, downloaded, abstracted, indexed, read,and sometimes cross referenced, and not everyonewill want to go through that!Let’s see: Since a normal working year consists ofabout 2000 hours, if one person at Apple, Google,Microsoft, etc. works for a year and writesdocumentation that takes someone one hour to read,then 2000 such persons can write enough to keepanyone fully busy just reading documentation. Aftera while, can get swamped in such documentation. AndApple, Google, Microsoft, etc. have in total waymore than just 2000 people working and writing. So,there has to be quite a lot of specialization sothat not everyone will get deep enough to do much inserious production computing.Bookstores have already noticed: Books on practicalcomputing go out of date too fast.So, for teaching computing in K-12, we’re talkingsuperficial here.So, there is some considerable question how muchhigh school students should learn about currentpractical computing.And there is something to, “If we can’t teach themto read, then how can we teach them to code?”. Thereading difficulty level of some badly writtendocumentation of something complicated in computingis a bit high. Good technical writing in computerdocumentation is tough to find.Alas, since so much of the time in high school iswasted anyway, might as well sweep out some of theold waste and bring in some of If-Then-Else, etc.Can’t be much worse, right?But, remember: At times there have been efforts toteach:(1) Making table legs on a wood lathe, making araised wood panel by using a circle saw, singlesurfacer, and jointer, e.g., much as in the TVseries ‘The New Yankee Workshop’, and woodfinishing.(2) Light metal working, e.g., use of taps and dies,a sheet metal bending break, drilling, riveting,spot welding.(3) Heavier metal working with welding and X-rayinspection, milling machine usage, computernumerical control, tool and die making.(4) Electricity and basic electronics.(5) Auto repair and auto body repair.(6) How to run a kitchen to supply soup and salad to2000 people.(7) How to sew a dress, bake a cake, or changediapers on a baby (but omit much on how to find agood husband, have a good marriage, and make ababy!).Etc.So, there has long been considerable question aboutjust what the heck to teach in high school.If we are going to have such a debate, then let’sreturn to just why I had to study a Shakespeare playeach year for four years in high school and twoyears in college but in all that time got only twoyears of physics and nothing on ‘Girls 101 forDummies — Boys’!My view is that for the next 50 years in computing,what will be crucial is the work done before thecoding that says what the coding and the computersshould do, and for that so far by far the mostpowerful subject is, and the candidates are:computer programming, computer science, artificialintelligence, machine learning, sociology and thesocial net, and mathematics. May I have theenvelope please (drum roll). And the winner is –mathematics.If K-12 is to be mostly just babysitting and collegejust “an elegant parenthesis”, then who the heck isgoing to do the leading edge, hard work of havingthe US lead in innovation, trade, the economy, andnational security?Somewhere in here we will need to get serious. Oncewe started getting serious in reaction to Sputnik.We need to continue to be serious.If-Then-Else and Do-While by themselves are not veryserious.What is serious? Right, selected parts of the STEMfields, especially mathematics, physics, andengineering. In STEM, technology is a weak fourth.Coding by itself is down somewhere near changingtires with a lug wrench or sewing on buttons.

      1. William Mougayar

        I like your short list. Yes, it’s teaser to see if they’ll like doing more.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          I’m all for useful skills! E.g., last weekI dumped a dishpan of water into thekitchen sink and heard something bubblein the power room. Right: Something inthe common pipe was plugged ujp!So, off to mop up the floor! Ah, the thingsI do to write software!Well the sponge mop was all deterioratedand crumbling. BUT! I’d recently boughta replacement for the sponge! So, whilewater dripped into the basement, offto install the new sponge!Didn’t work! The old sponge was heldby screws into a metal backing plate, andthe new one has just plastic pins withlatches. Hmm … So, right, the spacingof the pins was correct, but the holesin the mop head were too small. So,get out a drill plate (how many at AVCeven know what the heck that is?).Saw that a 1/4″ drill would make the holein the mop head about the right size forthe plastic pins. So, got out my collectionof drill bits and my small electric drill(much better than the ones I grew upwith), and, presto, the mop head wasattached.So, mop up the rest of the water. Nota complete waste since the floor hadbeen moped less often than once aweek anyway! Floor now looks better,but I’m not rushing to take biologicalsamples; I will let the dry winter airdisinfect the floor! Ah, it was just the water I dumped into the sink,right? Not entirely!I have to believe that worse thingsare common when having babies!I remember the old advice: “Do justa little more on the daily cleaning and,then, save so much time on theheavy weekly cleaning!” Save timeon my “heavy weekly cleaning?”Not a chance! I’m a nerd writing software and mud wrestling with5000 pages of badly written Microsoftdocumentation.Right, if I drop some food on the floor,then I don’t t eat it!

      2. JamesHRH

        Holy smokes that is a terrific comment.On the other end of the spectrum is the basic human truth that 90% of people don’t care about HOW only WHAT.Even your short list is unattractive to them……

      3. Cam MacRae

        Concur.Way to bury the lede, Siggy.

  7. jason wright

    Esperanto, but useful.

    1. Guest

      +1. Do you listen to the Lexicon Valley podcast. Bssed on this comment you might like it. Give the latest episode a try. They talk about Loglan and it’s actually the reason I find this entire comment stream BS. Cc @fredwilson

  8. Lisa Mogull

    This is so important. My son and I went on a tour of the Columbia Secondary School of Math, Science and Engineering, a public secondary school on W. 123rd Street in Manhattan. The kids there are amazing and the faculty does an incredible job with limited resources. However, we were horrified to find out they don’t teach coding or have an after-school programming club.I’d like to challenge the nice folks at Codecademy to bring programming to these kids. http://www.columbiasecondary.org/

  9. Tom Labus

    Cory Johnson, Bloomberg West, had the guy who started code.org last night, I like his explanation why it’s easier to start than English: Less alphabet, less exceptions, better logic. He was very down to earth, great spokesman

      1. Tom Labus

        Yes, it was later in the program.

  10. panterosa,

    @fredwilson Last week, my 12 year old daughter (aka PantherKitty) asked my partner to teach her to code. I attribute this to the biomorphic resonance of energy coming from the 1st AFSE next door and from 915 Bway. I’ll ask her if they’re doing an hour of code at school.The other day she wanted to make an algorithm to figure out the probability of sitting next to the person you wanted to if you were 4 people and decided it was 33% but wanted to sort out the factors which would swing it to being the person she wanted. I love that she is thinking this way on her own.

    1. JamesHRH

      I voted this up solely for the use of the phrase ‘biomorphic energy’.

      1. jason wright

        and what does it mean?

        1. JamesHRH

          roughly, biomorphic means that you project a living essence onto an inanimate object.She’s claiming that the buildings resonate a life-force.

  11. Sam Birmingham

    I run the CoderDojo program in Perth, Australia. Before each new mentor (most of whom are studying CS at college) starts, I ask them “when did you first start coding?”I reckon more than half say “when I got to uni”… That we are now actively introducing kids to coding from primary school upwards fills me with optimism!

  12. ShanaC

    Note to self: Call high school today and try to get back on the Career Day panel because otherwise I suspect the tech panel will not have anyone saying :everyone should code.

  13. Matt Zagaja

    I have been coding for fun since I was in middle school and discovered I could change how powerful my ships were in a video game by editing some files, and then how to make websites. I got a group of friends together in high school and we convinced a physics teacher to teach all four of us AP Computer Science and I took the exam.I ended up going into a non-tech major but have kept up using and learning code. I have made money doing consulting with coding projects. In fact I just got a proposal for a new one today. Wanting to learn some of the new web technologies I did Codecademy which I enjoyed, and also CodeSchool. Most recently I’ve been going through Michael Hartl’s Rails Tutorial. So many good resources are available online now.However, as great as the online resources for coding are, I think one of the best things I did was start attending a Meetup.com Meetup for coders interested in civic hacking and projects. A local startup hosts them and provides pizza and beer. I learn lots of things from chatting with other coders for a couple hours that I do not get online. I have also showed them many useful tools that I have found. If you are starting out I strongly recommend going to http://www.meetup.com/ to find a local group that is focused on new coders.

  14. dredding

    Thanks Fred. This is a huge deal and I’m now the (pro bono) CFO of the Mass Tech Leadership Council Ed Foundation whose mission it is to promote CS education in MA K-12 schools. Only 579 HS students took the CS AP exam in MA last year! MSFT gave us a $350k grant to get started on the program.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      When I was at WPI they added a “community service” component to our work study grants. I spent mine judging local science fairs. I wonder if you reach out to CS departments in local MA colleges if the CS majors that have work study would be interested in using that grant to be paid to mentor high school students and get them excited about coding.

      1. dredding

        Great idea Matt! We’ll look into that.

  15. Matt Zagaja

    My semi-long comment seems to have disappeared. Mods? Disqus?Anyways for the benefit of people missing it: tl;dr: Best thing I did after coding alone was go to Meetup.com and attend a coding meet-up. Lots to learn from others when starting out.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      It has re-appeared. Must have been a disqus bug.

      1. William Mougayar

        I brought it back 🙂

        1. Matt Zagaja

          Ah thanks William. Didn’t know adding com made a link.

    2. William Mougayar

      Saw it as a false Spam and approved it. You’re white listed from now, so that shouldn’t happen. I think the double links may be fooled the algo’s.

      1. LE

        Seriously? You mean the algorithm blocked his comment that began with “I have been coding for fun since I was in middle school”?What kind of algorithm is that if it thinks that comment could possibly be spam.

        1. William Mougayar

          Honestly, I have no idea how a false spam gets caught. There were 2 mentions of that meetup.com link. I was speculating that it may have been a factor.There are some heuristics involved, but it was prob a combination of things. The way the comment started has semblance with how some legit spam comments start, “I have been using this service for months, and discovered I could make $77 per hour…and here’s link.”

          1. LE

            Well you don’t but disqus does. It’s their black box.If the commenter has any kind of history of commenting before (not a new disqus account) and further has gotten replied to on a particular blog or many blogs the algorithm should be smart enough to white list it.On it’s face something isn’t right if a commenter like Matt Zagaja couldn’t be recognized as legitimate by other than what he is writing. It shouldn’t even get to the point where analyzing what he is writing is even necessary.Bottom line is moderators shouldn’t have to whitelist people except in super edge cases. This is not one of them. It’s really clear to me that any algorithm should have recognized a frequent commenter as legit and automatically approved any and all comments by default.One other thing. It’s entirely possible that disqus algorithm is optimized for all of their communities. But the truth is a community that is like AVC (or a small community) is not like the local newspaper using disqus. Or a place where there is not the same ratio of regulars. They should be setup to handle blogs in more of a real world way things work. Not one spam catcher to cover every blog that uses disqus. This would be like enforcing airport like security at the local dentist office.

          2. Guest

            You go girl!

  16. John Revay

    Fred – can you share what your son Josh is going to school for next year?

  17. andyswan

    Love this idea… I think it’s really not about “coding” as much as it is about logic.Getting kids to use logic and reason is NOT a given (as evidenced by our local public school system)… it requires deliberate effort.So if “coding” doesn’t sound fun to your family (maybe your kids are younger, etc)… then you can always try other logic-based games and challenges. Building legos toward a certain goal… football score scenarios… IF statements drawn out of a hat…. Latin.It’s not about learning a coding language, it’s about learning how to think in a input/output (creative yet black and white) way.Enjoy the hour(s)!

    1. JamesHRH

      Recent AVC discussion about chess is something that makes more sense.

      1. andyswan

        I’m stupid

        1. JamesHRH

          Chess is logic and mental discipline.Learning chess provides as much real world use as coding.I always found chess was 50/50 idea / will.

          1. LE

            Hmm. Well if you learn to write a program you can also solve a problem (that you or somebody else has) with that knowledge. I do that every day and have made money from my skills in that area.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            To become a good chess player you have to learn a big foundation of rules.To become a good programmer you have to learn a big foundation of rules – which are slightly different for different languages; Similarly to other languages like English, French, etc..To get benefit out of the basic logic that programming helps people understand though, doesn’t require you to learn or know a lot.Learning if, then, else, and loops (cycles in life) are probably the most beneficial.The next layer on top of logic is compassion, teaching people patience and understanding – to not immediately react to frustration or anger towards someone doing or saying something that doesn’t fit within their logical understanding of the world.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Imagine if there was a practical way to embed compassion and understanding into people!You’d think it’d be a given, though like logic and reason, it’s not – it’s something that requires deliberate effort.

    3. Techman

      If then statements are pretty simple in logic or otherwise. The problem with getting if and then statements into learning a programming language is all of the other junk you have to learn that are needed to use the programming language. For example, there is soooooo much stuff you have to learn to learn C and use it effectively.

  18. Matt Candler

    Fred, great post. Here’s my take on it. And a shot of my 8 year old’s Roominate project. http://4pt0.org/blog/hour-o

    1. Matt Candler

      My personal framing for this is less about NBA-like odds of hitting the startup lottery and more about how to understand the world we live in, the world that people who know how to make stuff and program computers are making for us.The hour of code is important because it can help you start to understand that these things – software and hardware – don’t just appear, they’re designed and built by people who know how to create (and by the robots those people build).Here are two of my favorite reads that have informed my view if you’re interested. One on hardware, the other on software.Shop Class as Soul Craft by Matthew Crawford – A great read about someone who felt so out of touch with the physical world he lived in, he quit his non-profit do-gooder job to fix motorcycles for people. This book inspired me to start Night Shift Bikes, and Crawford captures the feeling I get when I build and fix things.Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff – Chapman Snowden, founder of Kinobi, told me about this book. It’s the software soulmate to ShopCraft. And not to go all Matrix on you, but I know way too many of my own generation that just don’t want to know how anything works, not even their toaster. And that terrifies me if that trend continues. My kids will know how stuff works.For as long as I can keep up, I’ll do what I can to teach them that tech and toys and stuff doesn’t just appear when you click “add to cart.” They will know that humans and robots that humans build actually make and fix stuff. And they’ll understand the joy of using something they built, whether its made out of cardboard or java.

  19. Dave W Baldwin

    Code academy is great!

  20. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Hour of Code is possibly the coolest thing to happen this year. It should be a monthly thing, like the third Friday of every month, or something.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Could probably say the same about a lot of things … like getting everyone to spend an hour a week focusing on compassion, etc..

      1. Drew Meyers

        yup.same with getting everyone to spend an hour a week going to meet a really cool person f2f

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          That’s 50 cups of coffee, right? 🙂

          1. Drew Meyers

            Correct! 😉

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Yup. Would be an interesting algorithm to figure out who to match up with whom – so there’d be at least something each person could take away from it … even if it ends up a teacher (life experience) / student (learning) scenario. This could be part of a compassion practice as well.The issue here is though many people like staying in their bubble.. and so they’d never want to be part of a culture that does that – though I don’t think we need everyone to be involved in that at the start.

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I’d like that, too.

  21. Richard

    Out: watching tv In: Programming TV

  22. Alexander Repenning

    Because Scalable Game Design is mentioned, here is a direct link to the University of Colorado Hour of Code tutorial. It allows you to make a complete 3D game in your browser using AgentCubes online, the world’s first 3D web-based programming & modeling tool: http://hourofcode.com/ac

  23. Jocelyn

    Fred, don’t forget to add Hopscotch to the list of above Hour of Code resources! Folks can build a game in an hour here: https://gethopscotch.com/ho

  24. Josh

    I went to school in Aruba and had a teacher in 7th grade (in 1997) who was teaching us how to write computer programs in QBASIC and writing basic HTML websites. That teacher and his classes changed my life.Most of the success I have had in life comes from the life lessons I learned in that class in 7th and 8th grade.That class taught me how to “hack” the world around me. I learned how to build stuff and hack together programs.I still use those “hacking” skills today – not by writing computer code – but building stores, launching new products, tweaking variables in our business.Programming is incredibly powerful and I really believe that everyone should be strongly encouraged to learn how to program even if you don’t want to become a programmer. Learning how to program was one of the most empowering experiences of my life.