Should Middle Schools have programming elective?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dataset, Aug 28, 2007.

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Should Middle schools give programming as an elective?

  1. Yes

    21 vote(s)
    61.8%
  2. No

    13 vote(s)
    38.2%
  1. dataset macrumors member

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    #1
    Do you believe that middle schools should offer programming as an elective class?
    I am in middle school and wish there were, although I can see the negative side effect of the cost of a teacher who knows programming well enough.

    Well, what do you think?
    and if yes. what language?
     
  2. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

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    #2
    i wasn't even aware that there were any electives in middle school.
     
  3. Aperture macrumors 68000

    Aperture

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    #3
    They'd most likely teach Visual Basic or that thing MIT made.
     
  4. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #4
    I'm a technology manager for a middle school (one of my hobbies).

    We have computer electives, but they are for design, not programming. The students learn to use Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, etc., and I'm quite impressed with how well they do using professional applications like these.

    We've had a couple of inquiries about programming, but not much sign of widespread interest.

    I'd love to hear what others think, and learn from any experience any of you have.
     
  5. dataset thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
    Visual Basic? That's too bad.. I guess this world is stuck in Windoze land.

    Well I'm not sure if all middle schools give electives but mine does for 7th and 8th grade. In my school though you only get to choose your elective in 7th and 8th. This is going to be my first year with the elective I chose.
     
  6. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    #6
  7. MLeepson macrumors 6502

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    #7
    No, I just came from middle school and there were many electives (for only the eighth graders) but in a grade of ~240 there two people people who are interested in computers (including myself). So that's me and my friend, my friend's a PC guy (he does Java and C#) and I'm a Mac guy (I know no lang.) and we would probably gain nothing from a programming class, especially from a teacher who barely knows iMovie HD. My high school offers programming classes for sophomores and older, but if freshmen want to take they have to fill all sorts of prerequisites. So, I think it's a bad a idea to a have programming class in middle school.

    Edit:
    The middle school I went to had an elective for digital photo (which was with cheap cameras and photoshop elements) and one for Multimedia (which was Garageband, Go Live and iMovie)
     
  8. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Canada, eh?
    #8
    As an elective, wouldn't that depend on interest? If there are enough middle school kids who want to learn programming, then sure. But I suspect not.

    I understand lots of kids learn HTML and website design, either through school or as a consequence of owning a MySpace or Piczo account. :)

    Almost 10 years ago I helped out at a technology day camp offered by my university, where we taught kids stuff like web design, programming, Flash animation, stop-motion animation, game design, MOO/MUD/MMORPG, electronics, robotics, programming, etc. There were some real bright kids in the lot, so we were able to do a fair bit with them, but that's a natural consequence of offering a specialized-skills camp and having kids with those specific aptitudes and interest.
     
  9. dataset thread starter macrumors member

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    #9
    I guess you are right about the interest issue.. Most kids in my school just care completely about their friends and nothing else.. Makes me wonder what they will do when they are older..

    I guess it is really just my friends and I who are interested in programming, and we are only like 8 people out of who-knows-how-many people.

    ADDITION : ...Maybe my friends and I should just have an after-school club for anyone who wants to be progammer.. I can teach other people my age HTML and PHP to start with.
     
  10. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #10
    I taught LOGO at an elementary school. Were you one of my students? :cool:

    LOGO is indeed a programming language, since you specify procedures for performing steps, and you can store and reuse those procedures. But it's not what middle school students would be after. They'd want to learn a "real" programming language.

    There is a neverending debate about which programming language(s) should be taught in introductory programming courses, and the same issue comes up whether it's a college course, a high school course, or a middle school course. The bottom line is that the concepts to be taught are often the same, at least for procedural languages, but the details can differ quite a bit. Students will have very different experiences learning a high-level language in a visual IDE (integrated development environment) compared with learning a lower-level language using a simple editor.

    The choice often depends on the teacher's personal experience and on what textbooks or manuals are available.
     
  11. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    #11
    Nah, I'm pretty sure I would remember the hat. :p
    Plus I'm in my 30s now, would that mean you're not old enough?
     
  12. Alloye macrumors 6502a

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    Rocklin, CA
    #12
    I learned BASIC on a Commodore PET 4032 when I was in middle school. It was the first class I ever took that actually piqued my interest in something useful.
     
  13. ErikCLDR macrumors 68000

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    #13
    Sure but I am sure they will not want to pay for it. :p
     
  14. adroit macrumors 6502

    adroit

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    #14
    I think it's a good idea.

    One of the BASIC languages or Java should be appropriate. However, I think you would get more interests from students with HTML & web design classes (I guess that's not really programming but if you can get into css and scripting then it should be a pretty good start).

    Dr Q classes with the adobe suite sounds like a good program too and it would be quite fun to learn since the results are quick to obtain.
     
  15. Mistershark macrumors regular

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    #15
  16. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    #16
    What about programming something physical, like LEGO Mindstorms?

    Might not be a separate elective class, but I could see it as a unit in some other class (computers etc) or as an after-school club activity.
     
  17. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #17
    No I do not think it should be offered in middle school.
    First very few middle schoolers have the ability to think the way that is required to program and even few have the interested in it.

    The hardest part about programing is being able to think like a computer which is very different that normal human though.

    As for what language I would say VB or C++ because that is what most of the industry uses so it would be the most useful to learn. Also learning it does not really set you back much in the other languages because once you know one it pretty easy to learn another. Mostly it just syntax that changes a little.

    Like I said the hardest part about programing is just being able to understand how programs work and think correctly. Plus finding really stupid annoying bugs in the program like when I spent 3-4 hours trying to find why I kept getting zero for the answer for an assignment I made and it turned out I forgot to send the parameters for a sub routine I was using. Syntax errors are easy to find, logic errors and errors that do not crash the program not so easy to find.
     
  18. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #18
    those classes are pretty cool. I do some mentoring work though my college that uses lego mindstorm. It is scary what some of the kids can come up with.
     
  19. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #19
    Yup, I'm not old enough. So I wasn't your teacher, and I can't claim credit for all your achievements since you left elementary school, as I was planning to. :(

    I'll bet there are clubs like that at some schools.

    By the time today's middle schoolers are in the job market (ignoring summer jobs), software technology may very well have marched on to other languages. However, the languages you mention may be just as good as any others, whether or not they are "practical" in the long run. As you pointed out, it's the concepts that matter. Note: I'd give the edge to Java over C++ among procedural languages.

    Interestingly, procedural programming languages are the only ones most students even hear about. Teachers rarely mention that there are other classes of programming, such as functional programming and logic programming, and they generally treat scripting languages as second-class citizens even though entire products can be created with modern scripting languages. And it's often easier for beginners to get started with scripting languages.

    That makes me wonder if a course based on a scripting language would be more appropriate than one based on a well-known compiled language.
     
  20. jones14 macrumors member

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    Mar 1, 2007
    #20
    You guys are lucky to have a school that cares about more than basketball.
    In terms of computer classes at my High School I can take:

    Computer Apps I & II - half year classes, teaches you to use Office '03, I used it as my time to look at MacRumors.
    Desktop Publishing - Make advertisements, etc. Using Word, MS Frontpage :(, and Adobe Pagemaker.
    Multimedia - Make crappy movies of your friends with Windows Movie Maker.
    Business Technology - Not sure what its about yet, I'm a mere Sophomore and you must be a Junior.

    I am known by my teachers to be good with computers and I will soon be updating our school website, they tell me I have to do it with MS Frontpage, since when was that decent software for a website?

    I have been looking to take some college courses but they won't let me because I haven't taken their preliminary courses on how to turn on the computer and type.

    It does make it somewhat easier for some things though, in my FBLA (High School Organization) competitions I got first place in a number of my areas of interest at regionals, and then I received a lousy award for 10th at the state conference, which made me realize that where I live is a pretty bad place to live for someone with an interest for computers. I couldn't help realize there was a very small (<5) amount of people in Java and C++ but a good number in Visual Basic.
     
  21. dataset thread starter macrumors member

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    La Mirada, California, United States Of America
    #21
    Ya, when was frontpage any good... o wait, that was never.

    They're making you do it with Frontpage? Odd.. I'm working on my middle schools newspaper website and they didn't tell me to use anything.. For that matter they really didn't tell me anything at all.. I've just been hand coding it.

    omg I think I just realized why they make you do it.. They want this to be an IE ONLY world..
    Hand coding it, I just came across a huge amount of compatibility errors with IE... and all my code is standards compliant..
    Here comes a day or two of debugging...
     
  22. tracetritt macrumors member

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    Northwestern Wisconsin, USA
    #22
    Though i think it would be awesome to have a programming language taught at the middle school level it would not be piratical as others have mentioned. I am a sophomore in high school right now. Most minds are not developed to think in this logical way. Though, there are a few that can think in this way very well in fact. Freshman year in HS I took a Visual Basic programming class. I was able to pick up on it very quickly. By the second quarter I knew more about the language and programing more complex programs then the teacher. Mind you, we were using pc's that are now 9 years old. I'm an assistant to the IT director at my school and he has converted most of the school to Mac's. There are about 50 pcs left in the entire school. The plan is to get x code on them and teach the students on that. The problem with this is that the tech teachers are very unwilling to change. They don't wish to teach anything other then VB; which teaches very bad habits to minds that are just beginning programming. But now I feel like I'm preaching to the choir. In any case, programming is a very useful thing to know and it should be required in my opinion. Thanks for reading this ramble.

    Trace
     
  23. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #23
    Too bad the phrase Script Kiddies has bad connotations. It would make a great course or club title!
     
  24. dataset thread starter macrumors member

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    #24
    lol. Thats a good one.
     
  25. jones14 macrumors member

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    #25
    The site was already done, I'm just the one updating the info on it. I know a little HTML and CSS but in the past of done a couple sites in Dreamweaver, I have no clue on how to use Frontpage at the moment. I doubt I would be able to use anything besides Frontpage judging from the source code on it.

    And as to them wanting this to be an IE only world, I don't think that they are smart enough to figure out what IE stands for, let alone know there are other browsers. My computer teacher refers to the monitor as the CPU :confused: I tried to correct her once and I ended up in the office for back-talking her.
     

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