While some politicians can't seem to grasp the absolute basics of technology, others are well-versed in it enough to attempt to make a good change in people's lives. One such person is Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who hopes to make coding a requirement to graduate high school.
As a former Chief of Staff to President Obama, his message to the current president might carry a bit of weight. It's Emanuel's belief that students "need to know this stuff". He goes on to say, "In the way that I can get by kind of being OK by it, they can't."
Emanuel's intent here seems noble, but whether or not people actually "need" to know how to code is undoubtedly going to be hotly debated. Most people out there are not coders, so clearly it's not super important, though it could likewise be argued that if students know how to code, it could inspire them and give them a much better kickstart than other subjects.
Flickr: Daniel X. O'Neil
Currently, Emanuel is aiming to make coding an essential requirement for high schoolers in Chicago by 2018, and it's his hope that the entire nation might follow its example.
As a tech geek, I admit that I would have loved a programming class in high school. For me, it'd beat the pants off of most other subjects, and being a batch file hacker as a kid, it definitely would have inspired me to consider continuing coding. However, many people are not going to share that kind of interest, and might end up being left frustrated by it more than inspired. I never had a knack for algebra, and someone else might not have a knack for coding.
One thing's for certain, though: there's a lot of support behind getting people to understand coding. Just a couple of years ago, many incredible programmers encouraged people to learn it, and just last year, Code.org launched a cool platform that allowed people to create their own Flappy Bird clone. We're even seeing some companies put real money into encouraging kids to code. While BBC's "Micro Bit" project is slow to start, it involves the support of many different companies to get kids to use their brains in challenging ways.
So what do you folks think about Mayor Emanuel's thoughts on coding?