Why Johnny Can't...|
Geometry or Programming?
1997 October 01|
The reason you learned geometry was not because anyone expected that you would ever use it. A few things, such as Pythagoras's theorem, have real-world applications. The rest of geometry is merely an exercise in logic. It's a very fine exercise in logic. Unlike most of my classmates, I found it a stimulating and interesting exercise in logic. But it's rarely useful. The kids who find it interesting should be allowed to learn it anyway. Everybody else can heave a sigh of relief.
We should teach kids how to program instead. Programming is a superlative exercise in logic. Just like in geometry, there are often a variety of means to accomplish a given end. Logo is even fun!
Programming is an extremely useful skill in a world that will depend ever more on the ability to make computers do useful things. Once the basic concepts of programming have been absorbed, learning a new programming language is not a great deal of work. This means that the basic skills of programming do not become obsolete even when the language becomes obsolete. (Which doesn't happen very often in any case - remember FORTRAN? Still here after all these years.)