Back in grade school, we passed notes to our friends during boring classes (which were every class!) one of the simplest codes was the one-letter-away substitution. ‘Dog’ became Eph. Code-breakers were in demand in WWII and it was the subject of the recent hit film, The Imitation Game.
In the early 80’s I purchased one of the very first home computers, the Timex Sinclair 1000. It was the ‘state of the art’ with its 1K memory. It was wired to a TV screen and essentially spelled out messages. The operator programmed the message through the use of a code called Basic.
The booklet (above) taught the programmer step-by-step how to produce the desired outcome. I recall being fascinated by the logic inherent in the program. One wrong step produced a blank screen. By the end of the summer, I was able to create/code a primitive game.
Fast forward to 2015. Coding is in vogue these days; in fact the UK is teaching it to their grade school children. Here in the U.S. It is naturally not taught, yet the late- teens and 20-somethings are interested specifically for the APP craze. There is money to be made! Money is a great motivator, yet even if the student does not seek a career in tech, the logic, critical thinking and reasoning skills associated with coding are valuable life-lessons that everyone can use.
Today’s schools in the U.S. are not teaching coding because there are few teachers competent enough to teach the class. Rather, American teachers spend countless weeks even months teaching long division. How useful is that! Why? Because they learned it back in the day. American education is still stuck in the same factory model designed for our grandparents. Pitiful, but not at all surprising.
In a recent conversation, a friend was complaining about trying to help her granddaughter with math homework. The math was ‘new’ and grandma didn’t understand the methodology involved. Her quip was not surprising: “Why can’t they just teach this the simple way we learned?” Apparently grandma did well in long division.