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March 08, 2007

C#: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

We are in the process of signing our oldest son up for junior high school, and one of the electives he could take is a C# programming class. This is a new class next year and I guess they weren't sure who to offer it to, so it's open to anybody (that being grades 7 through 9 at this school).

The description states "Students will learn the basis of C# programing language to create small programs and games. These programs will include how to author, compile, debug, and run Windows applications, console applications, and internet applications." The topics they cover include Writing Code to Handle Events and Set Properties, Using branching and Recursion, Getting to Know the.NET Framework, Obtaining Data From a SQL Server 2005 Express Edition Database, and Data binding Data to User Interface Controls. That's a pretty impressive list. I don't recall worrying about binding data to controls until at least 8th grade (all kidding aside, I did actually begin programming around 8th grade, and we got our first IBM PC towards the end of 9th grade. Then again, I was a geek).

It's not that the school is some tech mecca; this course is basically the alpha and omega of their programming curriculum. Since they take the students all the way to a working database-backed application, there may not be much left to teach beyond how to choose a VC for your mezz round.

The school does offer a class in graphics (mostly web-focused, it appears). There is also one on using application such as Word and PowerPoint. Our son could probably teach the PowerPoint section: topics would include How To Rip Off Animations from YouTube for Fun and Profit, Looping Sounds to Annoy Your Parents, The Functional Efficacity of Purple-on-Green as an Eyesight Test, and Slide Transitions: For Great Victory.

Posted by AdamBa at March 8, 2007 03:49 PM

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It seems like excellent public policy for schools to be starting kids on programming reasonably young (and middle school seems about right, by the evidence of when you and all the other geeks of my generation got into programming on their own for fun). I'm guessing the Redmond public schools are sufficiently well-heeled to have done this with their own funds, but if the various tech companies in the area know what side their bread is buttered on, they should be subsidizing this sort of class in as many area schools as possible (as I think the Gates Foundation is already doing to some degree country-wide). Today's NY Times has an article describing how Europe is suffering from a terrible labor shortage in tech areas. The US isn't quite there yet, presumably because of its greater hospitability to immigration (and to second-generation immigrants), but it could get there easily enough without some sensible educational policies.

Posted by: Becky at March 10, 2007 09:04 AM