Is Choice Always Best?

For two years in high school, I was excited about registering for philosophy, and I did so. For two years in a row, my math teacher re-registered me into her new BASIC Programming classes and the PET Computer and Apple IIs we had. I wrote BASIC programs, did pictures, etc. However, I was rather ticked that I never got to take the Philosophy course.

In college, I was ticked again, this time with my grade in a Philosophy course. I blamed my former math teacher, of course. The BASIC programming seemed to have nothing to do with my college experience.

Suddenly, I was in graduate school. The Writing Center was building a big lab of IBM PCs. I started working with writing and computers. As I applied for my first teaching jobs, I distinguished myself with fluency with PCs, posting student work on public BBSs for public comment, using email to exchange student writing with classrooms in other states and countries. And this was before Mosaic.

In the end, I was creating web pages and firing up email servers. So, where did my confidence come from to do these things and stand out? Well, from the BASIC programming courses back in high school my math teacher re-registered me into. Given the choice back then, I wouldn’t have taken them, but the value of these courses was apparent years later. I guess she was right.

Today, I don’t see long lines for programming courses. If we don’t introduce students to the logic, structure and algorithms of how computers and software work, are we respecting their choices? Or are we leaving them unprepared and lacking confidence for the future, where distinguishing themselves may be tantamount?

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