There’s another take on an interview with Linus Torvalds focusing on programming computers.“I actually don’t believe that everybody should necessarily try to learn to code. I think it’s reasonably specialized, and nobody really expects most people to have to do it. It’s not like knowing how to read and write and do basic math.” Where I disagree with him is that programming is like maths. Everyone who works at a desk/business/technical job should know how to use spreadsheets and databases for instance. That’s a way to programme mathematical operations. That’s a way to solve problems.
The heart and soul of science is collecting data and finding patterns in it. The heart and soul of mathematics is manipulating symbols for the purposes of analyzing data and solving problems. The revised curricula in K-12 education in mathematics, science, and technology education all emphasize the ability to solve problems using IT, including some hardware and programming. See for example, Manitoba’s Grade 9 Mathematics Curriculum. Programming is like being able to read and to write and to do basic maths. I was overjoyed when the curriculum was revised in the late 1990s. Students who used to drop out of highschool over an inability to do “traditional” maths could finally excel at solving problems because they could edit and revise spreadsheets in seconds and get the spreadsheet itself to verify solutions. There was no longer an easy way to get the wrong answer. There was an easy way to get the right answer, like brute force/trying every reasonable value until the right one was found… Even weak students could understand the concept and some of them were better at that kind of maths than the “smart” kids.
Programming and IT are tools that everyone in a modern society should know something about. It’s a good thing Linus is only managing the Linux project and not all of edcuation. 😉
See Linus Torvalds Q&A.