State legislators in Washington and Kentucky want to amend college admission rules to make computer science count as a foreign language credit. Ars Technica has the scoop on this intriguing story, including some choice quotes from Chris Reykdal, the author of the proposed Washington bill. Reykdal argues that students should learn foreign languages in elementary school, when their younger minds are more receptive to them. By high school, he says, it's "far too late to usually be effective."
Critics argue that programming languages are no substitute for natural ones, which is a fair point. I learned a fair bit of French and Turbo Pascal in high school, and there's no comparing the two. But learning a programming language taught me a different way of thinking about and breaking down problems, which is arguably more valuable—even to people who have no desire to pursue a career in computer science—than memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules that are likely to be forgotten.
Reykdal adds that, despite a growing market for computer science grads, "we don't give kids a meaningful shot in getting some computer science basics before they go to university." Changing admission requirements won't necessarily give students more opportunities to learn programming languages in high school. However, it opens the door to a larger discussion about how much computer science high-schoolers should be exposed to in this increasingly technological age.
What do you think?