Computer science for all

Bill DeBlasio unveiled what will be a transformative initiative for the New York City public school system that will see computer science become a standard part of the curriculum for all students within a decade.

I’m using the word “transformative” very intentionally here, largely because I’ve been following Fred Wilson’s work on this as a private citizen and donor for years. Typically when I hear “public/private partnerships” as the solution for achieving grand projects, I’ll file whatever I hear next as “pipe dream.” I don’t think this will be.

I don’t know how to code, beyond being a little dangerous with HTML and CSS. Ruby, JavaScript, Swift, etc. are as mysterious to me as Chinese or French. But that’s part of the point of this initiative—if traditional languages help ground us in the humanities, the languages of code help prepare us for a world where technology shapes human culture and experience as much as the traditional languages do. That’s really the takeaway here: that computer science isn’t merely a technical discipline, but another language. In that light, this initiative makes incredible sense as a priority for the city.

Another aspect of this is that I suspect (again, largely due to the involvement of people like Fred Wilson) that the success of this initiative will energize donors for many years to come. Energizing private gifts to enhance the public system is a model that I think should be adopted whenever possible.

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