Coding To Replace Language Classes?

When a profession fails to keep up, and provides only the same old boring schlock, year after year, things like this happen:



6 thoughts on “Coding To Replace Language Classes?”

  1. “Coding is arguably what welding was 100 years ago,” he said. “Let’s not get carried away.”
    A quote from the article

  2. To compare learning JavaScript with learning a second language is dismissive of the struggles and efforts of ethnic and language minority groups in America who bravely try to learn English and assimilate into American culture.

  3. Math teachers think the same thing: Math is a language. Figuratively speaking, yes. It has a specialized “vocabulary” and sets of rules. It looks like math to these coding math whizzes, but I would guess that that is due to having language classes where students memorize vocabulary, rules, and paradigms. My experience is that being good in math is a good predictor of how well one will do in traditional language courses.

    But seriously, do people speak, read, write math? Do they say they are going to the bathroom in Math? No. Do they ask will you be my valentine in Math? Could they represent those thoughts mathematically? Probably. Is Math processed by the Language Acquisition Device?

    I agree that Math is a universal which we share in common.
    Language is also a universal.
    Math is not necessarily inevitable. In fact, a lot of higher math is discovered/invented and passed on by way of learning, rather than acquisition.
    Language is inevitable. Put a child in a language environment and the child will acquire that language. The evidence for this is ubiquitous, so much so that this rudimentary observation is often overlooked (think behaviorism).
    Can we put a we a child in a math class and they start speaking Math, and then in HS take English as a FL?
    How much can be expressed in Math?
    Math can be learned and expressed in any language, but can Math be expressed apart from a real language? Can Math express apart from a real language?
    They simplistically compare a particular language to Math. They fail to consider that they should compare Language to Math. Comparing French to Math is like comparing Language to Division.
    So as a subject in the curriculum we have failed to define and educate who we really are (Language) by masquerading as something we aren’t (Math, History, Grammar), and now we are considered dispensable because why should there be two of us (Spanish masquerading as Math and Math deluding itself into thinking it is Language)?

  4. “My experience is that being good in math is a good predictor of how well one will do in traditional language courses.”

    Exactly! Which is why traditional language courses are “classes” not actually ways to acquire language. I used to feel exactly the same way–learning Spanish was “hard” and methodical, applying rules and making charts.

    I’ve had tech-savvy kids excited about the possibility of coding substituting for Spanish! But you put it wonderfully:

    “Can we put a we a child in a math class and they start speaking Math, and then in HS take English as a FL?”

    Seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?

  5. Thank you, Lori,

    Here is another way to think of it: 2 + 3 = 5. Any 6 year old from around the world could probably process that, even if some concrete prop like fingers or sticks are needed. For the moment, let’s assume so anyway. The question is how to pronounce that equation. They will each be expressed in a real language whether it be “two plus three is five” or “dos y tres son cinco.”

    Although mathematical thinking and expression are part of what it means to be human, they are dependent on Language, and specifically, a particular language. We can substitute the particular languages for one another in order to discuss Math, but we cannot substitute Math for Spanish to talk about French. We can talk Spanish about French from a mathematical point of view. But Math is the topic (Math and French, in this case). But Spanish is the medium of discussion.

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