Stop telling kids that programming is a ‘foreign language’


Do you think computer programming should count as a foreign language credit in US schools? New Mexico does. So do legislators in  Kentucky and Washington and several other states, with more on the horizon as fears about US students’ STEM deficiencies increase.

At first glance, the idea of letting kids study Swift instead of Spanish may seem appealing. We all know computer programming is an important skill, so it would be nice if it was promoted from elective status in schools, and there are plenty of superficial parallels between code and natural languages: both come from large families, so picking up your eighth declarative programming language is a lot easier than learning your first; both have concepts of grammar, syntax and so on.

The ways in which this idea is terrible are also apparent at first glance, and agreed on by both linguists and computer scientists. A quick rundown of some highlights:

Continue reading “Stop telling kids that programming is a ‘foreign language’”

Stop telling kids that programming is a ‘foreign language’

What if you managed your workday like an OS scheduler?


The longer you work in a knowledge-related job, the more responsibilities you have in a given day and the less likely you are to get any of them done. There are the five tasks you’ve been working on for two weeks that are due today, the ten things that were really due last week, the hot-button item that your boss invented unexpectedly this morning, and the ever-present backlog of stuff that you have to do sometime if you ever get the chance. Plus there are constant meetings, hallway conversations, instant messages, and emails. So…many…emails.

The worst part of this phenomenon is a nagging terror that of all the things you could be working on, you have chosen exactly the wrong one, and you will never get on top of anything ever again. (As you sit worrying about this, eleven urgent emails roll in.)


All this existential workplace angst boils down to a question of priority: what is the one best thing you should be doing right now?

Continue reading “What if you managed your workday like an OS scheduler?”

What if you managed your workday like an OS scheduler?