We all know that language is elastic, but that generally refers to the way specific languages change as culture does. Our vocabularies change (remember when “bling-bling” was introduced to the OED?), but our perception of what language is rarely does. Leave it to Kentucky to be on the forefront of changing that perception.
This week, the Kentucky Senate decided computer programming classes will count for foreign language credits in public schools. It passed the bill Tuesday.
Before we continue, I just want to take a moment to applaud Kentucky. And, as a Southerner myself, note the irony that a Southern state is the first to be this progressive with regards to language. Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
This is obviously a Kentucky-centric move, as the state hopes to have its students play major roles in programming. As the bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Givens, said, “Those opportunities are there.” By 2020, there is expected to be 1 million programming jobs. And at present, only 2.4 percent of college students major in computer programming. To say there's a slight opportunity here is to say the Seattle Seahawks only barely won the Super Bowl.
And remember, this is for high schools. It’s a direction the world should be moving in, without a doubt. Remember, there’s even a freaking board game that teaches kids to program. Detractors will point out the obvious. These kids will lose the valuable skill of learning a foreign language, an area America is routinely criticized for being behind in. But it makes room for an entirely different kind of language.
Anyway, and this is going out on a limb, but it seems like one could learn a lot more from a few CSS classes than from a few Spanish ones. Especially if we’re talking about high school.
It’s hard to imagine this not becoming the norm across the country. It should, without question. Preparing our future workforce means being elastic, not just with language but with education. It’s insanely refreshing to see a state that (seems to) understand this. I say “seems to” because, as anyone who remembers his Schoolhouse Rock knows, the bill now moves to the House, where it’ll await clearance.
And if it doesn’t pass there... well, watch the Schoolhouse Rockepisode to feel my pain.