In Kentucky, mining veteran Rusty Justice decided that code could replace coal. He cofounded Bit Source, a code shop that builds its workforce by retraining coal miners as programmers. Enthusiasm is sky high: Justice got 950 applications for his first 11 positions. Miners, it turns out, are accustomed to deep focus, team play, and working with complex engineering tech. “Coal miners are really technology workers who get dirty,” Justice says.
The whole problem is rooted in the abuse of the key term, language. In foreign languages the term language refers to “the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other” (Merriam-Webster) while in programming languages the term language means “a formal system of signs and symbols including rules for the formation and transformation of admissible expressions“ (Merriam-Webster). To equate foreign languages with programming languages reduces learning a foreign language to the mere acquisition of a set of tokens or words that are semantically and syntactically glued together. It fundamentally ignores the societal, cultural and historical aspects of human languages.
Computers and the software they run are not magic. Nor should they be perceived as such.
Learning to code is not valuable because everyone needs to program computers, but because such an integral part of modern life needs to be understood at a basic, comprehensible level.
Our beginning programming course, CNA 267, is now using Python as the programming language. Students learn to work with decision and loop control structures, variables, lists (arrays) and procedures, etc. Python is becoming one of the most widely-accepted languages for business professionals and scientists.
Please inform your students (who need to learn programming) of this course. It is being offered during spring semester, as well as next fall.