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Kentucky: Programming Language = Foreign Language

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the take-exciting-vacations-to-$place dept.

Education 426

jackb_guppy writes with word that "Legislation that would let students use computer programming courses to satisfy foreign-language requirements in public schools moved forward in the Kentucky Senate on Thursday." From the article: "Kentucky students must earn 22 credits to graduate high school, but 15 of those credits represent requirements for math, science, social studies and English — and college prerequisites call on students to have two credits of foreign language, [state senator David] Givens said. Meanwhile, Givens pointed to national statistics showing that less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science despite a high demand in the market and jobs that start with $60,000 salaries."

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headline fix (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46068815)

Kentucky: English Language = Foreign Language

there's lots of them (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 10 months ago | (#46068825)

foreign to Kentucky. sure, go ahead. HS degrees are so valuable.

Re:there's lots of them (4, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | about 10 months ago | (#46068975)

In Ontario we used to have this thing called OAC(Grade 13) which gave you equivalent degrees or partial credits towards university. So in a sense, they can be valuable. When they killed and gutted grade 13 here, the quality of students entering university dropped through the floor.

Re:there's lots of them (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 10 months ago | (#46069189)

And you had to have that to get financing for a car, furniture etc

Not if you work for the Commonwealth of Kentucky (2)

marcgvky (949079) | about 10 months ago | (#46068839)

Technical salaries paid by the Commonwealth of Kentucky are approximately 40% below the regional market average. Perhaps the state senator should check with the state HR department.

Re:Not if you work for the Commonwealth of Kentuck (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 10 months ago | (#46068897)

Technical salaries paid by the Commonwealth of Kentucky are approximately 40% below the regional market average.

Not as bad as all that when considered within the context of the cost of living in Kentucky.

For example, consider what $300,000 will buy you for a house in Kentucky (and many other Southern states) verses in Western Washington State where I live. I, Puget Sound, $300K will buy me a two bedroom "fixer-upper" next to a crack house.

Re:Not if you work for the Commonwealth of Kentuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46068945)

Not as bad as all that when considered within the context of the cost of living in Kentucky.

But only for very lame values of living.

Re: Not if you work for the Commonwealth of Kentuc (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069383)

I know it is popular to mock the Southern US, but lame values of living are relative. I live in rural Southern Alabama, which is probably not much different than rural Kentucky. I have a nice 2 story home overlooking a pond. My morning commute to work is around 20 minutes if you count dropping the kids off at school. I might pass 10 cars during rush hour. I know most of my neighbors for a mile in both directions. When I want to go on a walk in the park, my backyard has 130 acres of pine trees planted. Sure the pay scale is not as much as a similar job in other areas, but neither is the cost of living. What would $70,000/year get you in Chicago?

kentucky needs help (1, Informative)

the simurgh (1327825) | about 10 months ago | (#46069019)

you can live in Kentucky like a god with 300,000 dollars. secondly as a resident and graduate of Kentucky schools i can tell you Kentucky educational requirements are a joke and funding is non existent or wasted. they think it's OK to have your kids in a 50 million dollar building be using textbooks from the 50's. they cut educational funding constantly while the congressmen keep raising their salaries and running off new companies with jobs we desperately need at the request of established players.

Re:kentucky needs help (2)

HiThere (15173) | about 10 months ago | (#46069045)

Considering what Texas has been doing to the schoolbooks recently, books from 1950 might be considered an improvement.

Matter of fact (though this is high school, not grade school) the 1950 is when they still used variations of Euclid's geometry to teach geometry with rather than set theory. I'm not a real fan of the way modern education has been changing.

Mind you, I can imagine many ways in which an underfunded school system is bad. (I live in an area with one.) But not being able to follow the latest fad in school books doesn't impress me as one of them.

Re:kentucky needs help (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#46069215)

1950s textbooks would work great for math and pretty good for literature, but perhaps less well for science or history.

If you're not learning calculus (5, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 10 months ago | (#46069259)

If you're not learning calculus from Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica [wikipedia.org] in the original Latin, you're just taking shortcuts. Begone with you.

Re:Not if you work for the Commonwealth of Kentuck (2)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 10 months ago | (#46069123)

Depends on where you are in Kentucky. Oh, everyone loves the narrative that Kentucky is filled with barefoot overall-wearing good ol' boys with a mason jar of moonshine on the creaky porch with a sprig of wheat coming out of the corner of their mouth, but everyone seems to forget that if you cross a river in Northern Kentucky, you are in the Central Business District of Cincinnati, Ohio; a fairly large city with significant history and home to several Fortune-100 headquarters.

Yes, $300k will go farther than Puget Sound, the Bay Area, LA or New York; but not as far as you would think.

Re:Not if you work for the Commonwealth of Kentuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069439)

...barefoot overall-wearing good ol' boys with a mason jar of moonshine on the creaky porch with a sprig of wheat coming out of the corner of their mouth,

Throw in a pregnant nun, a few buckets of Milwaukees Best and a greased pig, and you got yourself a party, boy! Yeeeee-haaaw!

you know (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46068847)

I want to mock kentucky, because it's the right thing to do, but this actually kind of makes some sense.

KY SB 16 2014 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069015)

"AN ACT relating to computer programming languages in public schools. Amend KRS 156.160 to allow computer programming language courses to be accepted as meeting foreign language requirements in the public schools; amend KRS 164.002 to define "computer programming language"; amend KRS 164.4785 to ensure that computer programming language courses be accepted as meeting foreign language requirements for admission to public postsecondary institutions."

I don't get the backlash, especially on a tech site like Slashdot (although the /. crowd is trending more towards the reddit / digg / mouthbreathers these days). HS language courses are the biggest waste of time. Do you actually learn anything in a HS language class? Just enough to recognize the language you are reading, maybe make fun of the weird shit they do in other countries, but definitely not well enough to be able to converse. These classes only exist as justification for rich kids (you know, the ones who /don't/ have to work) to take their annual European summer vacations subsidized on the taxpayer's dime.

A computer programming class makes so much more sense in that it allows people to learn basic logic and process management (as in, breaking down a big problem into smaller modules). This bill just expands the scope of what fills that "language" requirement.

Re:KY SB 16 2014 (5, Interesting)

Aryden (1872756) | about 10 months ago | (#46069057)

It really depends. I took Latin for 4 years. Though it is of no real applicable use to me at this time, it was a really great base for learning Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Those languages came really easy to me because of the Latin. The backlash I have with this is, the law should be that kids need 2 credits in programming AND 2 credit in a foreign language instead of this malarky.

Re:KY SB 16 2014 (4, Insightful)

R.Mo_Robert (737913) | about 10 months ago | (#46069229)

HS language courses are the biggest waste of time. Do you actually learn anything in a HS language class? Just enough to recognize the language you are reading, maybe make fun of the weird shit they do in other countries, but definitely not well enough to be able to converse.

Actually, I took (four years of) Spanish in high school, then tested into the advanced Spanish classes in college, which were mostly composition and literature, and I only had to take them because I had a Spanish minor (or I would have tested out otherwise). I also studied in Mexico during this time and was obviously able to converse, but I learned the majority of that during high school and would have been perfectly fine then, too. Some people are just not quite as good at learning foreign languages as others, and certainly the quality of education varies (I went to a really small school, by the way, but I think we had good teachers, including one native speaker), but it's absolutely false to claim that you won't learn anything in an HS language class.

A computer programming language, however, is completely different. While I think it's useful to learn both, this proposal seems to lump them under the same skill, and I don't think that's accurate or a good way to do it. (I have a BA in CS and an MA in linguistics, including applied/SLA, so I do have experience with both, by the way.)

Re: KY SB 16 2014 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069331)

Shut up with your anecdotal evidence. Check your privilege at the door.

Re:KY SB 16 2014 (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#46069427)

While the AC's account of foreign languages in high school is likely reasonably accurate for a large number of people, I think that the increasing denigration of language skills (including English) is yet another trend that needs to be reversed in American schools. The problem for Mr. AC is that he probably took 1 year of Spanish and got little out of it. An hour a day for one year doesn't get you very far. I took three years of Russian, came out reasonably fluent and took another two years in college. No, it's not terribly 'useful' unless I decide to change to a life of cybercrime, but I think it's important to be able to think in another language, look at another culture carefully and come up with a less parochial world view. The latter being the most important part these days.

Too many Americans don't understand the world past the 5:00 news. That is a truly scary thought.

But, back on topic, computer languages and foreign languages are nothing alike academically and socially - but if something gets kids to think in high school, it can't be all bad.

Re:you know (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 10 months ago | (#46069039)

Maybe, but good luck next time you're in a foreign country trying to buy food using for loops and if statements.

Re:you know (0, Flamebait)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 10 months ago | (#46069135)

Yeah, because learning Spanish is going to help you equally if you are in Korea.

You can do just that (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 months ago | (#46069139)

good luck next time you're in a foreign country trying to buy food using for loops and if statements

Actually, anyone can do just that [apple.com] these days.

Re:you know (5, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 10 months ago | (#46069169)

Maybe, but good luck next time you're in a foreign country trying to buy food using for loops and if statements.

You're being modded "funny" but I think you deserve "insightful".

I'm an old fart, but I really don't like the recent trend in colleges - and now high schools - where we're apparently moving towards a completely utilitarian education and away from attempting to develop well-rounded individuals and citizens.

It's not all about money and what kind of job you have.

And I must admit... I wonder if we nerds are at least partially to blame. Engineers and computer geeks often tend towards an almost Aspergers-like tunnel vision.

Re:you know (1)

quenda (644621) | about 10 months ago | (#46069337)

Maybe, but good luck next time you're in a foreign country trying to buy food using for loops and if statements.

Not a problem in Kentucky. Most of them don't even own passports.

http://www.theatlantic.com/nat... [theatlantic.com]

Re:you know (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069289)

But COBOL is my mother tongue, you insensitive clod!

So I speak four languages now? (4, Insightful)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | about 10 months ago | (#46068855)

Good to know if I ever need a federal government job...

Sheesh.

This is either someone trying to beat the system, or perhaps the system beating itself to some degree. Why is the plain meaning of "foreign language" in an English-speaking country even up for debate?

Re:So I speak four languages now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46068961)

To fill the form ABC-123:

Choose your prefered language
a) [ ] Assembly
b) [ ] Basic
c) [ ] C
d) [ ] D

Re:So I speak four languages now? (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 10 months ago | (#46069081)

In Canada most universities will accept math to fulfill a grade 12-level second language requirement, and have for decades. The point is not that you can order a beer in some other country while on vacation, it's that your brain has been stretched in the right direction. It makes sense.

Federal government jobs require that you actually speak French (and English) well enough to serve someone in that language, because there the point is that you actually speak the second language. That's well beyond what a grade 12 level French class would teach you, by the way.

Why is Kentucky such a backward place? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46068863)

Every time I hear about Kentucky, it always involves some sort of total lunacy. If it isn't "Intelligent Design" being taught alongside science, then it's total crap like this, or it's something to do with rampant incest.

So what exactly is the problem with Kentucky? I'm sure religion is at least partially responsible. Inbreeding may be an issue, too. But is there something beyond those factors that draws stupidity to Kentucky, and then enables it to flourish?

Re:Why is Kentucky such a backward place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069035)

Not so much a problem with KY as it is a problem with KY politicians. Like a lot of places in the US.

Re:Why is Kentucky such a backward place? (3, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 10 months ago | (#46069163)

So what exactly is the problem with Kentucky?

That's a good question. After all, not only does the best Bourbon Whiskey come from there, they produce a wonderful jelly. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why is Kentucky such a backward place? (2)

Existential Wombat (1701124) | about 10 months ago | (#46069291)

If you live in a state with abbreviation KY, you deserve to get shafted.

However, anything that promotes the use of computer science and technology to students who are crap at languages (like I was) cannot be that bad.

Re:Why is Kentucky such a backward place? (1)

PoopMonkey (932637) | about 10 months ago | (#46069261)

They are just mad that their state abbreviation has become a sex lube.

2.4% duh (4, Insightful)

danomatika (1977210) | about 10 months ago | (#46068877)

national statistics showing that less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science

Only 2.4% percent, well yeah ... it's only CS people. Since when did technology development only depend on CS graduates? Last I checked, there are more and more focus/applied degrees every year which would probably take care of a good number of those positions. Not every job needs a theoretical background, and all of those job postings for "App Developers" probably don't require a hardcore degree a this point ...

Re:2.4% duh (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46068971)

Pretty much spot on.

I'm sure the research scientist or business major that learns a great deal about applied computer usage, including some aspect of programming, need never pass by a CS classroom or know Donald Knuth from Donald Duck. Similarly, those students that get into hardware infrastructure don't need a great deal of programming either.

Still, the bill seems more aimed at allowing people to get out of high school without ever once encountering a Spanish word not written on a menu, than actually growing the computer literacy in the state.

Re:2.4% duh (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 10 months ago | (#46069093)

Who in hell modded this troll? To that person: you're supposed to base your moderation on the merits of the post, not on the person writing them. I've had my differences of opinion with the author, but this is a damn insightful post, and if some aspect of it is troll-ish, I just don't see it, so please enlighten me. There are few things as harmful to slashdot as moderators abusing their mod points to fight petty vendettas.

Re:2.4% duh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069155)

I do so ! DD is the one that made more money!

Government schools (0)

Kohath (38547) | about 10 months ago | (#46068899)

Government schools continue to be ridiculous.

hitler clones burn hobbyist whiner bystander (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46068901)

pr ?firms? sheesh who needs them? predatory textual phosphorians for sure dark matters the sequel begins re-runs

Re:hitler clones burn hobbyist whiner bystander (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 10 months ago | (#46069113)

I always wonder what the source and intention of these posts is.

I like this idea (3, Interesting)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 10 months ago | (#46068903)

My highschool required 3 years of a foreign language to graduate, 0 of which I had any interest in, and only 1 (the first) had any real-life applicability (spending a week in Mexico City).

Effectively, for me, two of those courses were a completely forced waste of time.

Taking more classes on programming/software development would have been much more useful.

Re:I like this idea (0, Troll)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 10 months ago | (#46069033)

Taking more classes on programming/software development would have been much more useful.

I'm thinking that the teachers' unions will against this. They will be afraid of foreign language teachers losing their jobs.

It's a pity. Teachers and schools should be interested in teaching what the students want to learn.

Re:I like this idea (2)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 10 months ago | (#46069145)

My high school in Oregon classified Music as a foreign language credit. Didn't hear one single gripe from any teachers. Can't imagine this would be any different - I doubt kids will be lining up outside the lab to learn Java instead of French.

Re:I like this idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069257)

Umm, this is Kentucky we're talking about, not exactly a hot bed union activism and as far as I can tell, the KEA is not an actual union with negotiating power.

Re:I like this idea (5, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about 10 months ago | (#46069047)

Which entirely misses the point of a broad education. If you look at it that way we'd do basic courses in the first 6 grades then farm everyone not going to college to a trade school. I believe there is a certain amount of general knowledge everyone should have so that a society can function. The problem in the last few decades is we've allowed too much dumbing down and now we're reaping what we've sowed.

You are the one missing the point (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 months ago | (#46069105)

Which entirely misses the point of a broad education.

Taking programming courses is every bit as broadening as taking a language course. Just in different dimensions.

Indeed I would hazard to say you would retain more overall from a programming course than one or two semesters of a language course.

In no way are we dumbing down people allowing them to study computers more in depth over language.

Re:You are the one missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069287)

Which entirely misses the point of a broad education.

Taking programming courses is every bit as broadening as taking a language course. Just in different dimensions.

Indeed I would hazard to say you would retain more overall from a programming course than one or two semesters of a language course.

In no way are we dumbing down people allowing them to study computers more in depth over language.

Having language skills of all kinds comes in handy at times. You've certainly found this to be true when coding. And if a foreign language is "every bit as broadening", then you've just answered your own question as to why it's still on the curriculum.

Your ignorance answered the question as to why it's still mandatory. Most foreign students will learn English as a second language, while Americans want to remain blind to that value.

Re:I like this idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069061)

There are lots of study that show learning a foreign language is good for the brain's development. Search for "foreign language brain study" and you'll see. So even if you never apply the specific languages you learned in school, the act of learning them made you think better.

Programming languages help the brain develop too, but perhaps not in the same way (are there any studies on this?) they will help you develop your logic for sure. So it's best to learn both kinds, as early in the education process as possible.

Why not both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069211)

Drop some of the required frou-frou fluff like my middle-schooler has to suffer through like Black History and Wymyn's [sic] Studies and open up schedule space for more real academics of all kinds.

Re:I like this idea (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069243)

Just wait 25 years. At that point, the Baby Boomers will mostly all be dead. The English language will die along with them. Once they're gone, America's most-used language will be Spanish. If you don't believe me, just look at any of the southwestern states. English is already clearly a dying language there. If you want to order fast food, or even buy some potato chips at a convenience store, you basically need to know Spanish. In a couple of decades, you'll need to be proficient with Spanish to hold down any sort of employment. At that point, you'll wish that you'd paid more attention during your Spanish classes. It will be exceedingly difficult for you to learn Spanish sufficiently well as an adult.

Deliverance Theme For Slashdot Beta (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46068933)

Slashdot beta: you sure have a pretty mouth!

I hope BETA DIES.

Seriously.

Quit forcing me to BETA pages, I'm sick of it.

Signed,

Walrus head shaped penis

Re:Deliverance Theme For Slashdot Beta (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 10 months ago | (#46069095)

Quit forcing me to BETA pages, I'm sick of it.

Log in if you want to avoid the BETA site.

Should be Alternative Language Requirement (3, Interesting)

turp182 (1020263) | about 10 months ago | (#46068957)

I sucked at Spanish in high school, harder than calculus. I got around language requirements in college via some comparative religion courses (which worked out great as one teacher turned me onto Hermann Hesse, changed my life).

The only problem I see with this change is called it a Foreign Language. If it was Alternative Language I wouldn't see anything wrong with it.

I see learning a programming language, which I assume mean learning some programming, as highly valuable to anyone. If taught properly (I've never seen this), it can provide a solid logic base (and, or, not) and a deeper understanding of decision making (conditionals).

My wife had a total of 8 years of French and spent a semester in Paris. She hasn't used it yet and is no longer very fluent. As for applied knowledge, her spreadsheet skills are good, but she trips up on logic and conditionals.

Why is there a foreign language requirement anyway?

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (4, Insightful)

johnjaydk (584895) | about 10 months ago | (#46068989)

Why is there a foreign language requirement anyway?

Yesterday, my best friend spoke to an american supplier and told them that he wanted the goods shipped to Europe. Not some weird, small country but Europe. The supplier asked where Europe was in the US.

I think You guys could do with a foreign langue or two. Not to mention geography...

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069075)

US TV/films have city names in foreign countries such as "London, England" and "Paris, France". Now in the rest of the world Paris, France is assumed. Presumable Americans assume Paris, Texas. If if doesn't exist yet it's about time for a Europe, Louisiana.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069207)

Around here Paris is in Idaho.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#46069273)

Presumable Americans assume Paris, Texas.

Only Texans, for whom it is reasonable (just as it's reasonable for Georgians to assume Athens, Georgia instead of Athens, Greece -- but they all damn well know the Greece version exists!)

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069099)

First of all, this very obviously didn't happen, and secondly even if it had happened it wouldn't be germane to the topic since it has nothing to do with foreign language.

Also, given the state of your capitalization and spelling, I'd say you should really work on mastering a first language before insisting anyone learn a second.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069225)

Exactly. Telling someone to ship to Europe is like asking a waiter to bring you food.

You're going to need to be more specific.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 10 months ago | (#46069119)

The thing is, if geography is skipped, does a foreign language make any sense?

Actually, I would argue that it does, or can. But, OTOH, if you haven't learned basic geography, you probably won't be the kind of person who will benefit from a foreign language. (It's not the rote memorization that helps, it's the learning to think with a different grammar. And a different division of the world. E.g. in French every noun must be either masculine for feminine. In German, little girls are neuter, and rivers are masculing. Gender is partially divorced from sex. And, or course, in English gender is nearly absent. But there's no way of talking about a single person without specifying it...and it IS equivalent to sex. (Except that for some people, all dogs are masculine, and all cats are feminine.) ---- But you won't notice things like that if you're the kind of person who doesn't grasp enough geography to know that Europe isn't within the US.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069175)

If you bother actually trying to understand German grammar, the genders for a ton of words suddenly make sense.

E.g. everything that's "little" has "-chen" added to it. Little girl = Mädchen, little rabbit = Kaninchen, little loaf of bread = Brötchen.
All "-chen" words are neuter. Bam, you just learned the gender for a thousand words for free.

Really, a lot of things in German can look weird, but it's weird in a very structured and logical way.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069235)

Well that explains why all Germans have penischen.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069149)

I took 5 years of Spanish, it did not cover where Europe was. That was covered in geography, and various history classes. The foreign language requirement's purpose is not to cover basic geography.

I always assumed it had 2 purposes: to help communicate with people, and to help understand about language. Its quite hard to understand the mechanics of language from a single native language. While I'm useless with my Spanish, learning what little of it I did really helped me understand the mechanics of English, and linguistics in general. The language you use effects your thought processes too, and its hard to get a grasp on that without studying (and perhaps learning) another language.

Thats the same reason why we don't teach people only one programming language: it provides no perspective. Learning functional languages really helped me grasp some very important design patterns which I could even use in object oriented languages. It really also helps a lot when you need to evaluate languages for projects, and when you go out and design and implement new languages.

So while I've never "used" my spanish, learning it was worth the suffering. I'm fully in support of people learning programming languages, but perhaps that could be done as part of math/science? Programming languages are great for applying math to perform science (Write a trivial F=MA loop, and you just invented integration, and have a model you can compare to your experiments). Math is way more interesting when you only have to do the algebra once and the result is a program that can simulate things. Then you get something like Sage that does the algebra (including the calculus), and math becomes just learning the concepts, and how to state things in terms of math and use the results. Programming is a great aid for statistics too, since it easily lets you run millions of trials to see if your statistics are correct.

Programming is a tool thats widely useful, and I think everyone would benefit from it. I don't see it as a replacement for foreign language at all though: thats so very unrelated. They are orthogonal topics, as is geography.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#46069327)

I took 5 years of Spanish, it did not cover where Europe was. That was covered in geography, and various history classes. The foreign language requirement's purpose is not to cover basic geography.

I took Latin, which covered a surprisingly large amount of Roman history and geography. (Unfortunately, it did not cover learning how to actually speak the language conversationally.)

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069437)

The thing about Spanish is that you can go to a ton of Spanish speaking places and never step foot in Europe.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (1)

CODiNE (27417) | about 10 months ago | (#46069201)

Everybody knows Paris is in Texas.

He's still an idiot though.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (5, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | about 10 months ago | (#46069303)

I call bs on your little anecdote. If someone was told to ship something to a place they weren't familiar with, they wouldn't ask "where in the US is that?". They would simply ask "where is that?" because they are already in this country and obviously assumed it was simply a place they didn't know about. Further I have never met anyone, no matter how uneducated, who did not know what Europe was.

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (3, Interesting)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 10 months ago | (#46069079)

"Why is there a foreign language requirement anyway?"

To unlearn things you "know" about language that just aren't so.

For example, in no English class that I took was any tense other than past, present, and future named. To learn what perfect, imperfect, and pluperfect versions of those tenses were for I had to take French and translate it myself back into English

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (1)

Shados (741919) | about 10 months ago | (#46069475)

You never learned of subjunctive, conditional, imperative, indicative? All native english speakers I talk to said they did.

French is my first language, and it is pretty silly with all its extra tenses. Not too sure what it brought to your life to learn them...

Re:Should be Alternative Language Requirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069129)

Why is there a foreign language requirement anyway?

The idea is that learning a foreign language forces you to learn about a different culture and customs. It helps to increase your creativity and empathy. Also, if you are fluent enough, thinking in another language makes your reasoning more objective.

No story here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46068963)

I my college accepted my programming languages courses for their foreign language requirement -- and that was nearly 40 years ago. This is actually pretty common, though it goes in and out of fashion every few years.

Makes sense (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46068965)

Would you rather learn a language to get you a high paying future or a language to talk to dishwashers?

Re:Makes sense (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 10 months ago | (#46069031)

Programming a dishwasher is simple, doesn't need much of a language.

Although of course back in the early days of robotics people were thinking of general purpose humanoid style robots doing the household chores, including dishes. (like the Dad in Robots) and it would take some effort to program that task (its mentioned in Heinleins The Door to Summer

programming not so simple after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069077)

http://xkcd.com/859/

Excellent news (4, Funny)

david.given (6740) | about 10 months ago | (#46069017)

This move makes absolutely perfect sense. Soon, everyone graduating from Kentucky high schools will have above average academic qualifications. Also, the senator is a genius and extremely good looking.

language of the heart compassion universal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069049)

heartfelt the good old all natural material for the new age of open honest communications & commerce. never a better time to consider ourselves in relation to every other one of us & our native creational centerpeace momkind. see you there guaranteed to raise all of our senses & spirits at once..

Doing it the other way round (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069065)

Many engineering types have trouble learning foreign languages. I believe a large part of the problem is that language teachers are not engineering types. They absorbed the language organically in a way that an "engineering brain" couldn't.

I think you could teach a foreign language much like a programming language if you could find a language teacher who's good a programming. So instead of teaching the language with situations (sitting at a dinner table, asking for directions etc), you could have a tutorial and a reference manual listing the syntax rules (including morphology) plus a lexicon of a couple of thousand words. Then, memorize it all, and you have a passable knowledge of a foreign language.

Re:Doing it the other way round (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#46069359)

Latin is taught in a way much more similar to that which you describe.

Sounds good to me. (3, Interesting)

SeaFox (739806) | about 10 months ago | (#46069071)

Not sure what the deal is with all the hate here in the thread. Isn't the Slashdot groupthink supposed to say that anything that exposes people to computers and programming is a good thing? Even when it's that nonsense of trying to teach primary grade-schoolers to code?

People are a lot less likely to take a computer programming language than they are a foreign language class in high school, but I'd say the computer programming course is more valuable to them. If they take the semester or two of foreign language, they will likely have forgotten it in a couple years from non-practice and even if they did want to study further will be having to start at year one anyway in college. If they never travel to a country where they speak the language what they do learn will be limited usefulness in life. It's another one of those subjects people study to be a more rounded person. But exposure to programming means learning more about computers in general and how to operate them, that means less idiots in offices hitting "reply all" when unnecessary or looking for the "any" key. And even those who decide programming isn't for them will come away with a better understanding (and possibly respect) for those that do go into programming.

Make one trick ponies, they're easier to exploit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069089)

Learn at least one foreign language*.

First of all, computer languages are hardly like human languages. The grammars are much simpler, but much more complex constructs are typically used in computer programs than in natural conversations. Computer languages are not spoken languages. Secondly, the point of requiring foreign language proficiency is to be able to understand foreign people, and not just language-wise. It enables you to learn about other cultures than your own without go-betweens. Thirdly, technology affine students are already more likely to have a curriculum with a strong emphasis on science and technology. Allowing them to skip a non-technical subject removes an aspect which is already underrepresented in their education. If you're trying to breed nerds, this is the way to go.

*: a language which is the mother tongue of a significant number of people currently living on Earth. Latin, Klingon and Python do not count towards this personality development objective.

Counterpoint, making a stronger horse (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 months ago | (#46069195)

Computer languages are not spoken languages.

I agree, but that point by itself means nothing.

the point of requiring foreign language proficiency is to be able to understand foreign people

How is this not already accomplished through watching countless videos from people across the globe?

But really, the thing is that computer people will naturally have a much better grasp of this anyway over a lifetime just due to being better off monetarily, and traveling more while also having lots more flexibility in choosing places to live across the world. So skipping language now to help someone become a better programmer earlier means more options for them to REALLY learn about other cultures first-hand later.

If you're trying to breed nerds, this is the way to go.

If you're trying to STIFLE nerds, then your approach is great. But why NOT breed nerds? Nerds can easily self-expand after school if they choose, and a course or two of languages in school is not going to make them any more well-rounded than they would be otherwise...

We need more nerds, not fewer. Help someone excel as early as possible and they will benefit for a lifetime.

Re:Make one trick ponies, they're easier to exploi (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#46069375)

Latin, Klingon and Python do not count towards this personality development objective.

And yet, Latin was offered as a foreign language at my high school...

(You are right that it was sort of "cheating" the requirement, though!)

You get no credit when everything is working (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069091)

And it is all your fault the second some screws with something and things go south.
Not worth 60k. Remember any NT 100.00 per hour. Pepperidge Farms remembers.

Relevance/impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069153)

So what if a programming class meets the foreign language requirement?

When I went to high school, a counselor encouraged students to take a foreign language if they intended to go to college. This was a rural area, and it was noted that foreign language classes are not necessarily for everybody. People who don't intend to work hard in school may not do very well with a foreign language. This implies, to me, that a foreign language was not required to graduate from that high school.

Just for the record, I did take a foreign language in another high school. However, I also proceeded to get college degrees, and I don't think my high school foreign language class ever came to play. (I don't think it affected me getting an Associate's Degree; once I had that, the Associate's Degree satisfied the GURs (General University Requirements) for a Bachelor's Degree. The remaining classes to get a Bachelor's Degree tended to be more field-specific: in my case, computers and math.)

Granted, it's a bit unimpressive if "languages related to computers" are treated as "languages related to foreign lands", as if computer technology or geeks are "foreign" for these people. Maybe, to remedy this, it would be better if the requirement became named something other than "foreign language". But besides this petty nitpicking of an argument, just what harm is expected from this?

Saying that the students are not properly prepared for the entrance requirements that will be expected of Ivy League schools is not a compelling argument if the students have such low standardized (SAT/ACT) scores that they wouldn't be admitted anyway.

So, I'll end with the core question that's being danced around:
If the foreign language requirement is so powerless that some people may get a Bachelor's Degree without fulfilling this requirement, then what's the expected big negative impact if some high schools allow this relatively toothless requirement to become fulfilled easier?

Y'all Goto 10 (2)

rueger (210566) | about 10 months ago | (#46069159)

Seriously, there had be a "Y'all" joke somewhere.

Or moonshine. Or bluegrass.

Viruses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069161)

So, if I write viruses, can I get a degree in biology?

Sounds a lot like (3, Funny)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#46069167)

This sounds a lot like the "Pizza is a vegetable" nonsense I remember reading about a few years ago.

Java++#athajson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069171)

I wonder how this will play out lol.

Not comparable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069181)

You need two years to learn a foreign language (months if you're left stranded in a country where nobody speaks your language). Learning a programming language is a two weaks efforts.

You know what? (1)

p00kiethebear (569781) | about 10 months ago | (#46069187)

I'm ok with this.

$60k? (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 10 months ago | (#46069219)

despite a high demand in the market and jobs that start with $60,000 salaries.In Kentucky? Starting software developer fresh out of college? $60k? Uh huh. Sure.

Re:$60k? (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 10 months ago | (#46069233)

Damnit. That was suppose to read:

despite a high demand in the market and jobs that start with $60,000 salaries.

In Kentucky? Starting software developer fresh out of college? $60k? Uh huh. Sure.

What is it? (1)

CHIT2ME (2667601) | about 10 months ago | (#46069223)

Bete'!!!

An international embarrassment (4, Interesting)

fred911 (83970) | about 10 months ago | (#46069239)

Granted, Kentucky is not representative of the whole US, but a perfect example of how we repetitively embarrass ourselves internationally.
  Most of the world is multilingual. Learning another language provides skills unrelated to coding. In addition to the obvious benefit of communication, it provides the student with a wider vocabulary and the ability to basically know the meaning of many, many new words they may hear while studying, without the use of a dictionary.
  How many Europeans know only one language? How many Indians or Chineese? Virtually none that have education.

We've carried the big stick for too long, if you can't see that you need to have the ability to play internationally, you'll be stuck with a Kentucky education and sadly ignorant .

Re:An international embarrassment (2)

Jiro (131519) | about 10 months ago | (#46069371)

Many Europeans know another language because they live close to a border where the people on the other side speak a different language, or they even live in a country where the people have more than one native language. They know another language because it is directly useful in their everyday life, not because knowing another language is good all by itself or because of indirect benefits like knowing the meaning of new words that are related to that language. The US is pretty big and it's a lot more common to live far from a land border (or to only live near the border with English-speaking sections of Canada.)

Re:An international embarrassment (1)

Shados (741919) | about 10 months ago | (#46069409)

To go that route it has to be specific languages. English isn't my first language, yet putting aside talking to my mother, my primary language has been useful exactly once in the last 4 years. I can go out and learn Lao for giggles, that isn't exactly going to bring much to my life aside abstract cultural benefits.

If you say we should learn some mandarin, spanish, or hindi, yeah, I guess. But many other languages will not bring much more than taking a couple of international culture classes of some kind would. Or hell, just traveling a bit.

var langs, about_time = new Date() (5, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 10 months ago | (#46069301)


langs = [
{
  "name":"C",
  "popularity": 49
},
{
  "name":"Java",
  "popularity": 53
},
{
  "name":"JavaScript",
  "popularity":82,
},
{
  "name":"Perl",
  "popularity": 3
},
{
  "name":"PHP",
  "popularity":64
},
{
  "name":"Python",
  "popularity":57
}
];

langs.sort(function(a,b) {
    if (a.popularity < b.popularity) { return 1; }
    if (a.popularity > b.popularity) { return -1; }
    return 0;
});

if (langs[0].name == 'javascript') {
    console.log("Tell me about it, seems whenever I go out drinking everyone is speaking in Javascript these days.");
} else {
    console.log("Dude, I don't even know what you are saying");
}

salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46069369)

jobs that start with $60,000 salaries? I've seen $48,000 in the newspaper. Maybe I'm living in the wrong town. lol

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