So I was sent this article a little while ago. An article written by Neil Fraser the man responsible for Google’s Blocky code editor, which you may be familiar with if you’ve ever used Android App Inventor (now in the hands of MIT). While on vacation in Vietnam Fraser took some time to visit the local school and to see what they had to offer in the way of Computer Sciences.
Computer classes start in grade 2. They begin with the basics — which of course includes how to take care of your 5.25″ floppy disks.
By grade 3 they are learning to how to use Microsoft Windows.
By grade 4 they start programming in Logo.
By grade 5 they are writing procedures containing loops calling procedures containing loops.
(So) what does grade 11 in Vietnam look like? I walked into a high school CS class, again without any advance notice. The class was working on the assignment below. Given a data file describing a maze with diagonal walls, count the number of enclosed areas, and measure the size of the largest one. -The class had 45 minutes to design a solution and implement it in Pascal. Most of them finished, a few just needed another five minutes. There is no question that half of the students in that grade 11 class could pass the Google interview process.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
I should begin by saying that this article nor the reference article are meant in any way to appear or encourage xenophobia. This is not an article meant to frighten or discourage anyone. To put one country ahead of another. My intent is to say this. Humans are AMAZING! We have such an incredible capacity to take in data, make it information and ultimately make decisions based on that information and then to teach that knowledge to the next generation.
At this point you may realize my interest in the topic is a bit skewed being that I am a programmer, but let’s dive a little deeper here into what it means to learn to program at such a young age. Programming is ultimately arranging a series of statements in order to get your computer to give you the correct results, but what lies beyond that is the communication process, a structure of words and functions, logic. What if we began applying those same critical thinking tools and structured approach to solving not only the problems of our daily lives but problems that effect the whole planet. Now I’m going to stop you here if you think I’m asking you to act or think like a cold-hearted robot. WRONG!
What I’m asking is for you to consider that if there was a common language to communication would it not be easier to sympathize with and ultimately reach an understanding with another person, culture, country, etc. So much of our life is governed by a fear of misrepresentation and anger towards a difference and it is only objectively that we remove the confusion and realize that many of us have the same aspirations. After all;
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
I am clearly not the only one taking this approach