Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

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Normchad
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by Normchad »

If this were true, we wouldn’t be talking about it.....
Individual commentators have disagreed sharply on how to define software engineering or its legitimacy as an engineering discipline. David Parnas has said that software engineering is, in fact, a form of engineering.[12][13] Steve McConnell has said that it is not, but that it should be.[14] Donald Knuth has said that programming is an art and a science.[15] Edsger W. Dijkstra claimed that the terms software engineering and software engineer have been misused[improper synthesis?] and should be considered harmful, particularly in the United States.[16]
KyleAAA
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by KyleAAA »

TitaniumCranium wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:33 am
quantAndHold wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:59 am ...They’re basically interchangeable cogs, cheap to hire, and (this is the big one) easy to relocate. We actually recruited senior people more aggressively than junior people, but it’s much harder to identify, hire and relocate senior people...
You'll probably never admit to seeing it, assuming that you do, but you're kinda actually proving my point. Young college grads are:

- Interchangeable cogs
- Cheap to hire
- Easier to hire ('cause, g*d forbid companies actually put effort into finding people to fill the type of positions in which they claim a labor shortage exists)

Edited to add:
quantAndHold wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:59 am Hidden and overly specific job requirements are a stupidity that’s common at all levels of tech hiring.
You'd think in a field that supposedly has such a terrible labor shortage that they wouldn't mind if someone didn't hit every single item on their wish list.

Edited again to add:
I'm bowing out of this debate. I fear that this thread has gotten dangerously close to being closed by moderators. Crossing that line in order to make a point wouldn't be fair to the original poster. I wish you all well.
Huh? Top companies put ENORMOUS EFFORT and money into their university recruiting efforts. New grads are neither interchangable nor cheap to hire. They are EASIER to hire than senior engineers, but still very difficult to hire by absolute standards. The Googles and Microsofts of the world spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year on university recruiting not even counting the almost-$200k first year total compensation most of those grads are paid.
HawkeyePierce
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by HawkeyePierce »

What Kyle said. They're easier to find but the competition is still fierce.
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

nigel_ht wrote: Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:47 pm
Normchad wrote: Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:56 pm
nigel_ht wrote: Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:02 pm
TheOscarGuy wrote: Wed Oct 14, 2020 1:18 pm
maineminder wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 7:02 pm As someone in the field, a software engineer is a very different beast from a 'programmer' although the title of software engineer is abused.

Taking a class in python won't get you a job as someone that defines and implements the full lifecycle of a software product including the architecture, coding of key pieces, build, distribution, fixes and support that may last many years. This is where the $$ are.

Is ''programming' good job? Certainly. But don't confuse the two.
I too hate the word programmer as well, when used to describe engineers :D
Its makes the job so much more lesser than what I am asked to do daily :happy
There are very few software engineers...and very few software engineers are practicing programmers. The discipline is much closer to systems engineering than software development...
There just aren’t commonly accepted definitions for any of these terms. Systems Engineering is especially wide open. A lot of schools have just rebranded their Industrial Engineering programs to be Systems Engineering. So it runs the gamut from factor floor optimization to n-tier architecture, etc.

Even the word engineering has been so ambiguous for so long. Engineers can be train conductors. They can also be building superintendents, etc.

So folks should stop getting hung up on titles.....
There is the IEEE SWEBOK that serves as a foundational understanding of the discipline. Plus the term and profession was essentially invented by DOD and NASA.

So...yeah there is a commonly accepted definition of software engineers and there have been practitioners for 50 years.
In the end, what counts is what they do, not what they are called. Engineering is all about making things work using what are already known. For example, Hubble Space Telescope was built by engineers to help scientists to explore the space. CERN and other particle accelerators by engineers for physicists to study high energy particle physics.
nigel_ht
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by nigel_ht »

Normchad wrote: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:20 pm If this were true, we wouldn’t be talking about it.....
Individual commentators have disagreed sharply on how to define software engineering or its legitimacy as an engineering discipline. David Parnas has said that software engineering is, in fact, a form of engineering.[12][13] Steve McConnell has said that it is not, but that it should be.[14] Donald Knuth has said that programming is an art and a science.[15] Edsger W. Dijkstra claimed that the terms software engineering and software engineer have been misused[improper synthesis?] and should be considered harmful, particularly in the United States.[16]
/shrug

You don’t hack together tens of millions lines of code into a working product any more than you build a 100 story sky scraper by winging it.

Thus the existence of large scale software proves the existence of software engineering in the same manner that nuclear power plants prove the existence of civil engineering.

The difference is that civil engineering has existed since before the pyramids and software engineering is only 50 years old.

Even as young a discipline as it is, software engineering as enabled software megastructures like Google (2B lines) with a greater impact to mankind than historical or contemporary physical megastructures like the Great Wall or the LHC...itself with 50M lines of code.

quod erat demonstrandum
Last edited by nigel_ht on Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
oldfort
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by oldfort »

quantAndHold wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:28 am
nigel_ht wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:10 am
Trader Joe wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:20 pm
alex123711 wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:04 am Is programming still a valuable skill?

It seems like everybody is doing tech/ programming and salaries are going down, almost everyone who loses their job or wants to change careers is being to told to learn to code.

It's also in the best interests of tech companies such as FAANG to hype it up as a career to drive wages down.

It feels a bit like a gold rush/ race to the bottom where it may be valuable for a few years, but then there will be a lot of unemployed people who spent years learning a skill for only short term employment.

What will the future look like? Will programmers basically be the low paid factory workers of the future.
Yes, I am always looking for very experienced programmers.
I’d rather hire fresh outs or early career.
I’d rather have a mix of levels. Youngsters to get cheap labor and mold them to fit the culture, mid level to get their productivity for a reasonable cost, and grey hairs to mentor and guide.

What you want and what you can get are often two different things, though. At the FAANG, 80% of our technical staff were people within the first 3 years of their career, because that’s who we could get to work for us. We would gladly have hired more senior people if we could have got them to work for us. At the defense contractor before that, it was skewed the other way. We had a lot more late career folks than we needed to get the job done, to the point where our labor rates were too high to win new contracts. All of our hiring was recent grads. We had plenty of people able to lead and mentor, and we needed to get the average labor rate down.

If I just have a short term project and don’t care about labor cost or developing talent for the future, I’ll take the experienced pros every time. They get the job done quicker and with less fuss.
This is more descriptive than explanatory. Why are the FAANG companies so young and why are the defense companies so old? It's not because the defense companies pay better.
nigel_ht
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by nigel_ht »

oldfort wrote: Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:13 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:28 am
nigel_ht wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:10 am
Trader Joe wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:20 pm
alex123711 wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:04 am Is programming still a valuable skill?

It seems like everybody is doing tech/ programming and salaries are going down, almost everyone who loses their job or wants to change careers is being to told to learn to code.

It's also in the best interests of tech companies such as FAANG to hype it up as a career to drive wages down.

It feels a bit like a gold rush/ race to the bottom where it may be valuable for a few years, but then there will be a lot of unemployed people who spent years learning a skill for only short term employment.

What will the future look like? Will programmers basically be the low paid factory workers of the future.
Yes, I am always looking for very experienced programmers.
I’d rather hire fresh outs or early career.
I’d rather have a mix of levels. Youngsters to get cheap labor and mold them to fit the culture, mid level to get their productivity for a reasonable cost, and grey hairs to mentor and guide.

What you want and what you can get are often two different things, though. At the FAANG, 80% of our technical staff were people within the first 3 years of their career, because that’s who we could get to work for us. We would gladly have hired more senior people if we could have got them to work for us. At the defense contractor before that, it was skewed the other way. We had a lot more late career folks than we needed to get the job done, to the point where our labor rates were too high to win new contracts. All of our hiring was recent grads. We had plenty of people able to lead and mentor, and we needed to get the average labor rate down.

If I just have a short term project and don’t care about labor cost or developing talent for the future, I’ll take the experienced pros every time. They get the job done quicker and with less fuss.
This is more descriptive than explanatory. Why are the FAANG companies so young and why are the defense companies so old? It's not because the defense companies pay better.
Lol, because the old guys prefer reasonable work life balance...been there done that. I get called by FAANG recruiters and honestly I’m just not all that interested.

Of course I already have a killer job and we have an older demographic than FAANG so that’s why I prefer fresh outs and early career...we need fresh blood to continue to grow folks internally to leadership positions as us old guys age out.
bling
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by bling »

to answer the original OP, yes, programming is a valuable skill, if not one of the most valuable skills anyone can learn. why? because at its core, programming is logic. it's the ability to analyze data and a define a set of instructions for something else to execute. this is useful in any context/profession. it's like writing a recipe, and stating all the steps and ingredients so someone else can cook the dish. but this someone else is a computer, which doesn't get tired, doesn't complain, and does as it's told, and you can drag a slider and now there's a 1000 of them in the cloud. if you are good with this skill the natural way to leverage it to its fullest potential is with software.
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alex123711
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by alex123711 »

alex6499 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:38 pm Being a highly skilled programmer makes you a hot commodity, especially if you are a US Citizen due to some companies not always hiring people who need/have visas. I feel like I could find a job about anywhere in the US or at least a fully remote job where I could literally move anywhere I want. I work for a major insurance company and they recently started treating developers MUCH better because we're the ones producing the bulk of business tools and many developers were leaving. It's a great time to be a skilled developer because every major company needs them to some extent. At 25, I don't expect to ever make less than $100k a year even in my low COL area.

I recommend software development as a career for anyone that is passionate about it, has the aptitude for it, and the work suits your personality.
What about the self learning route or bootcamp routes, are they really as viable as some say?
HawkeyePierce
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by HawkeyePierce »

alex123711 wrote: Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:49 am
alex6499 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:38 pm Being a highly skilled programmer makes you a hot commodity, especially if you are a US Citizen due to some companies not always hiring people who need/have visas. I feel like I could find a job about anywhere in the US or at least a fully remote job where I could literally move anywhere I want. I work for a major insurance company and they recently started treating developers MUCH better because we're the ones producing the bulk of business tools and many developers were leaving. It's a great time to be a skilled developer because every major company needs them to some extent. At 25, I don't expect to ever make less than $100k a year even in my low COL area.

I recommend software development as a career for anyone that is passionate about it, has the aptitude for it, and the work suits your personality.
What about the self learning route or bootcamp routes, are they really as viable as some say?
It's an uphill road. We don't hire directly out of bootcamps, nor are we likely to hire someone who taught themselves software engineering.

What I *do* see is someone going the self-taught route or through a bootcamp and then into a smaller company or a startup, eventually making the leap to a big tech company. Anecdotal but I see it more often with client-side roles (i.e. front-end web or iOS development) than backend development where CS fundamentals are far more important.
quantAndHold
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by quantAndHold »

alex123711 wrote: Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:49 am
alex6499 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:38 pm Being a highly skilled programmer makes you a hot commodity, especially if you are a US Citizen due to some companies not always hiring people who need/have visas. I feel like I could find a job about anywhere in the US or at least a fully remote job where I could literally move anywhere I want. I work for a major insurance company and they recently started treating developers MUCH better because we're the ones producing the bulk of business tools and many developers were leaving. It's a great time to be a skilled developer because every major company needs them to some extent. At 25, I don't expect to ever make less than $100k a year even in my low COL area.

I recommend software development as a career for anyone that is passionate about it, has the aptitude for it, and the work suits your personality.
What about the self learning route or bootcamp routes, are they really as viable as some say?
You should probably make this personal and actionable, per the forum guidelines. Are you considering this? What is your background?

For a small subset of people who are both extremely self motivated and don’t have better options, a coding boot camp or self study are viable ways to get into the industry. Most people who go this route either fail to get launched, or end up in lower paid, dead end work.

For most people, a bachelors or masters degree in Computer Science is a more reliable path.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
oldfort
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by oldfort »

alex123711 wrote: Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:49 am
alex6499 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:38 pm Being a highly skilled programmer makes you a hot commodity, especially if you are a US Citizen due to some companies not always hiring people who need/have visas. I feel like I could find a job about anywhere in the US or at least a fully remote job where I could literally move anywhere I want. I work for a major insurance company and they recently started treating developers MUCH better because we're the ones producing the bulk of business tools and many developers were leaving. It's a great time to be a skilled developer because every major company needs them to some extent. At 25, I don't expect to ever make less than $100k a year even in my low COL area.

I recommend software development as a career for anyone that is passionate about it, has the aptitude for it, and the work suits your personality.
What about the self learning route or bootcamp routes, are they really as viable as some say?
I think they can help some people, especially older workers. Think of someone in their 30s or older who can’t drop out of the workforce for 4 years to get a BS in CS and doesn’t have the technical background to jump straight into a CS Masters.
nigel_ht
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by nigel_ht »

alex123711 wrote: Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:49 am
alex6499 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:38 pm Being a highly skilled programmer makes you a hot commodity, especially if you are a US Citizen due to some companies not always hiring people who need/have visas. I feel like I could find a job about anywhere in the US or at least a fully remote job where I could literally move anywhere I want. I work for a major insurance company and they recently started treating developers MUCH better because we're the ones producing the bulk of business tools and many developers were leaving. It's a great time to be a skilled developer because every major company needs them to some extent. At 25, I don't expect to ever make less than $100k a year even in my low COL area.

I recommend software development as a career for anyone that is passionate about it, has the aptitude for it, and the work suits your personality.
What about the self learning route or bootcamp routes, are they really as viable as some say?
Well if you want to be a coder, then code. There’s a multi billion dollar app industry...of course most apps make nothing but being able to produce actual production code at an interview is worth something if you can get the interview at all.

I’d lean toward Android for this since Java is more widely used than Swift but whichever you are more comfortable with.

You still need a degree at most places to even get an interview though. You can try the freelance route without a degree but it’s tough.
TechieTechie
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by TechieTechie »

boosnark wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 9:53 am I've lead Product teams (and Scrum teams) and find that the best software developers are the ones who are the most adaptable, though not necessarily the best individual "coder", for lack of a better word. And among these the absolute top tier programmers are the ones that have a great sense of teamwork and patience
I agree with this....in my line of business (IT consulting) the most in demand coders are not just that are the best code jockeys but that

1. Can look beyond what is explicitly being asked:
-What is the business problem that we are attempting to solve?
-Have we thought of all permutations of the solution? (happy path, one off variations, common variations, process rescinds/changes)
-What's the risk associated with the data we are handling? How are we protecting it?
-Is the solution scalable? (Global, volume, complexity)

2. Particularly those that can explain technical concepts into business friendly language/concepts. Those programmers are GOLD.

3. And, programmers that understand older languages (e.g. COBOL) are still, surprisingly, in demand at many established companies. Systems not updated since the 60s are getting plugged into modern CRM and financial systems, and companies are struggling to adapt their existing systems...because the original programmers have retired.

Basic coding is continuing on the commoditization/outsouring journey....it's the coding + PROBLEM SOLVING that keeps US onshore resources valuable.
nigel_ht
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by nigel_ht »

TechieTechie wrote: Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:17 am
boosnark wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 9:53 am I've lead Product teams (and Scrum teams) and find that the best software developers are the ones who are the most adaptable, though not necessarily the best individual "coder", for lack of a better word. And among these the absolute top tier programmers are the ones that have a great sense of teamwork and patience
I agree with this....in my line of business (IT consulting) the most in demand coders are not just that are the best code jockeys but that

1. Can look beyond what is explicitly being asked:
-What is the business problem that we are attempting to solve?
-Have we thought of all permutations of the solution? (happy path, one off variations, common variations, process rescinds/changes)
-What's the risk associated with the data we are handling? How are we protecting it?
-Is the solution scalable? (Global, volume, complexity)

2. Particularly those that can explain technical concepts into business friendly language/concepts. Those programmers are GOLD.

3. And, programmers that understand older languages (e.g. COBOL) are still, surprisingly, in demand at many established companies. Systems not updated since the 60s are getting plugged into modern CRM and financial systems, and companies are struggling to adapt their existing systems...because the original programmers have retired.

Basic coding is continuing on the commoditization/outsouring journey....it's the coding + PROBLEM SOLVING that keeps US onshore resources valuable.
These are the primary skill sets of leads...so you need maybe 10-20% of these folks. I’d rather have 80% really great devs and 20% bigger picture folks than the other way around. The productivity delta between best and worst individual coders is an order of magnitude.

Some of the 80% will grow into leads and some won’t but continue to be high output devs for their entire career.

The BS is that coders are fungible. Yeah, if you want employ 10 devs where 2 really good ones can do a better job with fewer errors which means on time and on a lower budget without a death march.

Those 2 need to be coding domain experts and do not need to “explain technical concepts into business friendly language/concepts.”

If I can’t do that as a freaking product owner or lead then the weak link is me.

These super coders are just as hard to find as great leads and you need/want more of them.

Give me the right 10 devs* and small test team I can get you all the software needed to get a rover mission on Mars in a normal mission timeline. And I know who is pick as lead (it ain’t me).

The issue is there’s only maybe 5-6 devs of that caliber at JPL. Maybe. These kinda of dream teams generally start with “If we could clone Susan 5 times...”

* not counting folks to do fpga work.
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by LadyGeek »

I removed a post which linked to an IT outsourcing article with a strong political bias. Linking to articles brings the discussion into the forum. See: Non-actionable (Trolling) Topics
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boosnark
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by boosnark »

I have seen my fair share of dream team coders who can’t even write unit tests, refuse to provide any useful commit messages (probably thought it was beneath them), and are generally poor team players. More often that not their code would eventually end up being refactored because they were unmalleable to any further development. But yeah you’d get products out in record time, but end up spending more time and money trying to maintain them.
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by nigel_ht »

boosnark wrote: Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:21 am I have seen my fair share of dream team coders who can’t even write unit tests, refuse to provide any useful commit messages (probably thought it was beneath them), and are generally poor team players. More often that not their code would eventually end up being refactored because they were unmalleable to any further development. But yeah you’d get products out in record time, but end up spending more time and money trying to maintain them.
Lol. If they write suck code then they aren’t dream team material in the first place.

None of the folks I’ve known in that category have been “poor team players” or wouldn’t do unit tests.

I’d say most of the devs I’ve met at JPL are in the top 10% of the profession...and yet I don’t think they have more than a half dozen dream team folks. These are the folks that if you got all the leads in a room 80% would want them on their 10 person dream team when failure wasn’t an option.
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by softwaregeek »

TitaniumCranium wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:07 am
HawkeyePierce wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:45 am I work for a company in the tier below the FANGs (with comparable compensation) and almost all the senior technical leadership in my department is >40.
https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/median-a ... -force.htm
Median age of the labor force, by sex, race, and ethnicity

41.9

https://www.businessinsider.com/median- ... art-2017-8
The average age of employees at all the top tech companies, in one chart

From the link:

Median employee age at top tech companies:
Facebook: 28
Amazon: 31
Apple: 31
Google: 30
I don't see this as unusual. Certainly, not in the big 4 accounting firms.

"With an average employee age of just 28, EY is acutely aware that working for an organization with a sense of purpose is especially important to younger professionals." - EY Global Vice Chair of Talent, Nancy Altobello, on why better begins with people via EY Voice on Forbes

Universities are probably in there too, except they call their lowest tier workers "graduate students".
international001
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by international001 »

nigel_ht wrote: Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:16 am These are the primary skill sets of leads...so you need maybe 10-20% of these folks. I’d rather have 80% really great devs and 20% bigger picture folks than the other way around. The productivity delta between best and worst individual coders is an order of magnitude.

I thought it was never coming: https://www.construx.com/blog/the-origi ... -research/

Question is whether in the past 30 years it has become more or less than 10x
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by nigel_ht »

international001 wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 4:14 pm
nigel_ht wrote: Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:16 am These are the primary skill sets of leads...so you need maybe 10-20% of these folks. I’d rather have 80% really great devs and 20% bigger picture folks than the other way around. The productivity delta between best and worst individual coders is an order of magnitude.

I thought it was never coming: https://www.construx.com/blog/the-origi ... -research/

Question is whether in the past 30 years it has become more or less than 10x
Anecdotal evidence tells me that it still holds true...it also tells me I’m not in the 10x category any more :)
absolute zero
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by absolute zero »

Just had a conversation with a 2nd grade teacher who said that her school instituted “coding lessons” several times a week with the kids. I assume that 2nd graders can’t even type yet, so I’m not exactly sure how they could code. Made me wonder, what does that say about the perceived value of programming when they are trying to teach 7 year olds how to do it.
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by visualguy »

absolute zero wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:07 pm Just had a conversation with a 2nd grade teacher who said that her school instituted “coding lessons” several times a week with the kids. I assume that 2nd graders can’t even type yet, so I’m not exactly sure how they could code. Made me wonder, what does that say about the perceived value of programming when they are trying to teach 7 year olds how to do it.
Mozart wrote his first symphony when he was 8 :wink:

Early is the right time to start, and not just in music.
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