You Don't Want Our Next Generation to End Up Like This

Science is Progress

As we progress into the future, we become more reliant on the wonders of technology to make alleviate the challenges of life. Everywhere you look you are bound to see some form of technology or computer. Daily, people rely heavily on innovations such as laptops, smart phones, GPS’s, and the internet, but does anyone know how they work. The inner workings of computers are some of the most complicated processes in todays world. To be able to understand these processes, we need to start educating our youth as early as possible. Starting in elementary school, when the mind is most susceptible to new information, children should be taught the basic concepts of computer science. The US should implement stricter science education earlier in life so that students can understand the world we live in, gain experience in a constantly in demand career field, and help our nation remain on the forefront of innovation.  

The current elementary and middle school educational system in the US may have worked well in the past, but it is becoming out of date. The main problem is that early schooling is too easy. Because the curriculum is designed to accommodate students of all levels of intelligence the course work is not expected to be too challenging, however  there should be more options for younger students to test their maximum potential. Recent elementary school studies have found that 37% of fourth-graders say their math work is "often" or "always" too easy. In middle schools, 57% of eighth-graders say their history work is "often" or "always" too easy. (USA Today). If more than half of the students are saying that class is too easy, something needs to change.

I consider my time in elementary and middle school to be wasted. There was nothing challenging, nothing thought provoking, and nothing to prepare me for the real world. While finger painting and coloring was fun at the time, I would trade it all for a chance to learn something useful and spend less time and money in college. Why is it that we spend almost ten years teaching the basic concepts of math when all of calculus is taught in less than one? At a time when the mind is developing most, elementary school students are capable of much more than society expects of them. It is no secret that countries such as Singapore and South Korea are at the top when it comes to science and math education. What you might not realize is how far behind the U.S. is falling in these fields. A recent study has shown that only 7% of eighth-grade U.S. students reach the advanced level in math, compared to the 48% of Singapore’s eighth graders and 47% of South Korean eighth graders (NY Times).  Society is becoming increasingly reliant on technology that requires engineers, scientists, and mathematicians to update and regulate. Unfortunately, the United States does not emphasize these fields of study where they matter most- in the elementary and middle school grades. In order for the United States to remain a world leader, students need to be taught more computer and science skills before reaching the high school and college level.

Science and technology go hand in hand, and in our technology-oriented society it is important that U.S. students have the ability to compete with countries like Singapore and South Korea. The only way for that to happen at the present is to teach science and technology classes to students at a younger age. Students are more receptive to learning, and taught easier, when they are younger. This has been proven through the introduction of languages such as Spanish into the elementary school curriculum. Using this logic, there should also be an introduction to technology courses and more in depth science classes. If students are introduced to these important topics at a younger age, they will not only score better on exams, but these students will then be prepared to enter a world with growing emphasis on science and technology.  

If students are taught science earlier, they will have a better understanding for the world around them. Students that are strong in science fields are generally better in other subjects as well.  A stronger base in science such as chemistry and physics will enable to students to not only find answers to questions about the world they live in, but also ask questions and develop theories. This concept is what is most important. In order to remain dominant in all fields the United States needs to improve its presence and contributions in the field of science. By creating a society that encourages students to do well in science courses, the United States will build a culture of innovators.

Unlike more static disciplines, computer science is constantly evolving. It is an extremely diverse field with a plethora of different application.

“Computers have transformed life as we know it. Advances in computing enabled breakthroughs in genetics, protein modeling, medicine, weather simulations, and most scientific fields. Because of the Internet, people separated by oceans can communicate and collaborate at work and through social networks. The Internet has also revolutionized business practices. Video game and movie graphics are increasingly realistic. Children can learn various skills using fun, educational software. Policies and laws had to be rewritten to account for the new world created in cyberspace.  Computer science has been at the center of this technological revolution, creating new opportunities and presenting new challenges in a variety of fields. Computer scientists advance the state of the art by creating more efficient, effective solutions to problems.”(Washington and Lee University)

This quote aids in describing just how important this science is in our life. Computers operate in their own language, and just like French or Spanish, this language is best taught at a young age. The earlier that we learn the language, the earlier we can begin to explore and experiment with the development of programs and code. Learning how to develop software via computer code grants you problem solving skills that can be easily implemented in other facets of life. “Computer science is no more about computers as astronomy is about telescopes” (Edsger W. Dijkstra). This quote emphasizes the fact that computers are just a tool used in the field to further the intelligence of the user. Even if you do not enjoy computers or science, you will benefit greatly from even the most seemingly insignificant amount of experience.

The reason that most of the world associates the US with computer innovation is because we were some of the earliest to receive the most efficient computers back in the 50’s. People like Bill Joy, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates each contributed more than their fair share to the way we view technology. These men succeeded not only through their brilliance, but because of their passion for computers. Few other disciplines are able to provide this passion. When the first mass manufactured computers came out all of these men were just finishing high school or starting college. Each one has created their own multi-billion dollar industry. Just imagine what could be possible if they were able to start their computer education earlier in life. By teaching younger kids about the wonders of programming, they could develop a passion from a young age and progress much more than the industry giants of the past.

There is virtually no down side to implementing stricter education in our country. Many companies are currently trying to develop fun and easy ways for children to learn about sciences through mobile apps and websites. These websites can be used in schools to give kids a start in the field as early as possible. Computer related jobs are constantly in demand, in fact, computer programmers have been the most in demand position for the past 30 years. (Wanted Analytics). More rigorous classes in elementary education would not only improve the minds of our people, but also improve the country’s infrastructure through job creation.