I re-hashed this blog post title from the Edutopia article, Should Coding be the “New Foreign Language” Requirement? Texas legislators just answered this question with “Yes”. I hope Minnesota doesn’t follow suit.
Now, in all fairness, I need to disclose that when I taught high school, the Math department played a practical joke on the Languages department by faking a document that claimed that mathematics would be accepted as a foreign language requirement and then conveniently dropping the document outside the classroom door of the Spanish teacher. The ensuing result had the faculty laughing for weeks.
But, I would have no more stood up for mathematics fulfilling a foreign language requirement than computer science fulfilling the same requirement. I think a better substitution however is that computer science should count as fulfilling a mathematics requirement!
The authors of the Edutopia blog write,
In terms of cognitive advantages, learning a system of signs, symbols and rules used to communicate — that is, language study — improves thinking by challenging the brain to recognize, negotiate meaning and master different language patterns. Coding does the same thing.
Substitute the word “mathematics” for “language study” in the previous paragraph and in my mind, it is an even better sell.
While I hope coding does not replace foreign language, I am glad that it is receiving its time in the spotlight. And, I hope the statistics community can use this to its advantage. This is perhaps the perfect route for building on the success of AP statistics…statistical computing. The combined sexiness (sorry Mr. Varian!) of statistics and coding would be amazing (p < .000001) and would be beneficial to both disciplines.