BROOKLINE (CBS) – Coding is not only called the language of tomorrow — it’s actually the language of today. It’s how we talk to computers to make them do the things we want.
But many industry experts say too few students are learning it. Beaver Country Day School in Brookline is the first Massachusetts school that is incorporating it into every class.
When you peek in to an average English class, you wouldn’t necessarily see code as part of the learning process for Shakespeare. This isn’t how you learned Macbeth. But ninth graders at Beaver Country Day are getting the “2.0” version.
English teacher Lisa Brown never imagined it would become an integral part of her teaching style…and when she started teaching, she certainly could not have predicted it would involve teaching code.
But every class at Beaver — from art to history — now incorporates the language of computers.
The innovative effort was spearheaded by Rob McDonald, the chair of the math department.
“If you view coding as one of the new basics in the world that we are in, then it makes sense that students learn to write code in English, and history and science classes,” McDonald says.
It seems to be helping students grasp the intricacies of Shakespeare. In Brown’s class, one student created a visual learning tool when he coded one of the famous murder scenes, and it helped the class understand the text better.
“I think this is the ‘aha’ moment,” adds Brown, “When you have kids who don’t even know what the story is, able to look at a visual and connect with a vague sense of what’s happening.”
An organization called code.org is bringing in some heavy hitters to try to build the kind of enthusiasm that’s growing at Beaver.
Mark Zuckerberg — Bill Gates — -and actor and Ashton Kutcher — are among the celebrities trying to sell coding to kids.
But by one estimate, only about 10 percent of schools nationally teach computer science.
Although Beaver is a private school, they say their model wouldn’t be hard to copy.
What can the public school systems learn from what Beaver is trying?
For one thing, McDonald says it’s very affordable: “The tools that our kids are using are almost all free, they are using languages that are available online, as long as you’ve got a Wi-Fi connection, you can access these tools and write code, we didn’t hire a bunch of new teachers.”
Ninth grader Sophie Kaplan enjoys the fact that code has been integrated into English, history and all of her other classes.
“I Love it,” she gushes, “it’s great, I’m doing it in all my classes. I’m working on a project in art currently.”
Her classmate Ben Abbott calls it liberating, “when you are able to code, you can do whatever you want.”
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