EDITORIAL: In preparing students for a digital age, Country Day needs to keep up

In today’s digital age of exponential technological growth, computer programming is an undeniably useful skill.

Especially in science and engineering fields, it’s where the jobs are. It’s one of the first courses engineering students take in college, and those who know it often find more jobs and earn more money.

Just ask Tyler Trussell, ‘09, who majored in computer science and made more money even as an intern during college than his friend, a college graduate who was working in marketing (See story, p. 3).

With the increasing demand for programmers and tech-savvy employees in general, it seems logical to begin teaching the topic in high school.

As of now, the school does not offer any courses related to computer science—the closest is the Inventing Your Own Computer Games elective, though that teaches little in regard to actual programming skills.

The former Word, PowerPoint and Excel requirement was meant to introduce students to computers, but students now learn these skills through their life experience.

Instead, the school should offer the opportunity to learn new computer skills (that aren’t often picked up naturally by high school) through a computer science class.

An obvious option would be the College Board’s AP Computer Science A, which could, of course, grant college credit.

Some may prefer the idea of an easier course instead, but the AP Computer Science A course does not actually require prior programming knowledge.

The College Board describes the class as an “introductory” course in computer science, requiring basic algebra and problem-solving knowledge, along with, unsurprisingly, a computer.

And there’s plenty of interest, too—according to a recent Octagon poll, 40 percent of juniors said they would be interested in taking it.

One big question is who would teach such a class—bringing in a new teacher for just one class is unreasonable.

Teacher Bruce Baird is an option, as he already teaches the computer games elective and has some programming background from engineering.

However, Baird would have to drop his History of World War II class to make time in his schedule, and assuming there is also interest in this class, a choice would have to be made.

Maybe there’s no way it could work out next year, but this class is something the school will eventually need to offer—and the sooner the better.

No one denies that computer skills are vital, but Word, Excel and PowerPoint simply do not cover the scope of useful computer skills.

It’s time SCDS teaches students the skills necessary to achieve true mastery over these machines that are quickly taking over the world.

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