Computer Science Education is Literacy for the 21st Century

Sometimes, when you’ve been deeply involved in something for a while, you take for granted how important something has been to your life. I don’t usually think about how different my life would be if I hadn’t tried to program my parents’ computer when I was 8 or gotten into making web pages when I was still in high school. But I did and it moved me directly into my first job and eventually a very nice career in building web applications.

Was I a genius? Did I sniff out what was next in the future of business and position myself, at the tender age of 17, to enter into one of the most lucrative careers for my generation?

No, I got lucky. Something I was interested in, and interested enough to teach myself about, became the next big thing. I hit the career lottery and I didn’t even know I was playing. It’s that early curiosity that landed me where I am now. If my parents hadn’t helped that along by having a computer in the house when almost no one else had one, I don’t know where I’d be now.

I’m thankful for that. It’s gotten me to where I am and I plan on passing that on to the next generation.

I read an article on NPR recently where the mayor of New York City said, “A computer science education is literacy for the 21st century.” I can’t agree with this more. I don’t think there is a single job out there that won’t need a computer science education of some kind. It’s not just about using a computer, but telling it exactly what you want it to do that will be the most valuable skill. And that will take some sort of programming knowledge.

Will it be as important as literacy? Time will tell, I guess. But I’m going to make sure my children at least get a basic education in programming.