Let's teach programming as a tool for analyzing data to transform the world

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In other words, “maybe instead of teaching programming for programming’s sake, we teach programming for the sake of all the things that we actually use programming for in the real world.”

A little sad that this hasn’t really come up before, but better late than never.

Really though, we need to eventually take it further and figure out how to integrate programming into other curricula in little ways. Writing, speaking, coding, research… these are all cross-disciplinary tools that improve through use. If we want to elevate programming to a sort of computational literacy, we need to figure out what tasks in other subjects lend themselves to programmatic solutions.

As as example of what I mean: history classes usually require you to write papers, even though the subject of history is not writing. One isn’t graded on her writing skills per se, but the instructors can hope a student writes well enough to state her position clearly so the instructor can grade their comprehension of history. Most of a student’s education in writing comes from the experience of such “incidental” practice.


Agreed, and I liked that Kevin Wilson emphasized the importance of giving opportunities to teachers for more training and for more active engagement with learning and publicizing outcomes.


Everyone needs the Hadleyverse in R. dplyr and ggplot2 for all.

Note this is quite far from what we normally think of as programming. It’s more about working with sets of objects in tables. Fortunately this is also closer to how people naturally think than traditional programming is.

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