President Obama calls for computer programming requirements in schools

Monday, 18th February 2013 16:51 GMT By Dave Cook

President Obama has stated that all children should be introduced to computer programming in schools, due to the rise of computer-centric jobs and America’s increasing interest in videogames.

In a recent Google+ Fireside Hangout interview (above) – via Polygon – Obama said that introducing required computer programming studies in schools “made sense”, given the popularity of gaming among children. He suggested that the move would also help make more kids ‘job-ready by the time they wrap up their education.

Citing Mark Zuckerburg as an example of someone who made their riches off the back of a love for gaming, Obama continued, “Part of what I’m trying to do here is make sure that we’re working with high schools and school districts all across the country to make the high school experience relevant for young people, not all of whom are going to get four year college degree or advanced degree.

“There are a whole bunch of young people out there who I suspect if in high school are given the opportunity to figure [that] out — ‘Here’s how you can design your own games, but it requires you to know math and requires you to know science,’ or you know, ‘Here’s what a career in graphic design looks like, and we’re going to start setting those programs in our high schools not waiting til community college’ — Not only does it prepare young people who are not going to a four-year college to be job-ready, but it also engages kids because they feel like, ‘I get this,’”

He added, “Given how pervasive computers and the Internet is now and how integral it is in our economy and how fascinated kids are with it, I want to make sure that they know how to actually produce stuff using computers and not simply consume stuff.”

What do you make of the above? is Obama laying down some truth-bombs here? Let us know below.



  1. silkvg247

    I’ve been saying this for a long time. Also touch-typing should be taught.

    I’m not sure I agree that programming requires maths or science, it’s kind of it’s own thing and requires an ability to think logically. If you can think logically, you write a program to do your maths for you. ;)

    Also he shouldn’t be using games in the argument, yes they’re popular but that isn’t the reason kids should be taught programming – no more than media studies should be taught because movies are popular.

    Programming is important because computer programs run pretty much everything in every industry.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. FeaturePreacher

    As a programmer, I’m quite sure programming requires math and science. Can anyone say physics engine or runtime analysis or hash codes for hash tables or gaussian-jordan elimination or eigen vectors and eigen values for finding matrix inverses. If you don’t know the limits of what a machine can do with math, your math will come out incorrect and lead to some spectacular program crashes that you didn’t expect.

    Moreover, games encompass so many aspects of programming. Networking, concurrency, software engineering, AI, and algorithm analysis, and specialized hardware development are all included in gaming.

    This is a good start, but Obama should also make financial analysis courses mandatory as well. It sure would be helpful to know how to make your money make you more money through investment.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Phoenixblight


    That is only one aspect of programming but it doesn’t encompass all programming. I use python and mel for my scripting. I have yet to use any math that is beyond basic algebra. I have also used programming for flash,unity and processing all of which I didn’t have to use math to do what I need to do. There are plenty of function calls that do that stuff for me. Guess the trick is know what math to use but nothing that a quick google search couldn’t find.

    I am sure math will help to get precision but its not absolutely necessary intro to programming was all just boolean logic, even with just that knowledge I would say I am ahead of the majority of people especially those that consider themselves designers.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. silkvg247

    @2 As a programmer of 18 years, considered one of the best in my particular industry (retail), I disagree. You need to understand maths, you do not need to be a mathematician. Logic skills are far, FAR more important. I have seen excellent, highly intelligent, maths-centric people write frankly abysmal and overcomplicated code. You know, kind of like people who write overcomplicated replies with clever words instead of making an actual point. ;)

    #4 2 years ago
  5. FeaturePreacher

    I guess where you’re from, you can’t do simple Google searches to find out a point was being made. Perhaps in retail you can get away with not caring about code maintenance and just write some loops and print statements, but when making games, the things I said are basic.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. deathm00n

    @5 If you are doing the game all by yourself maybe…

    Really, I don’t see how all these things you mentioned are implemented in simple codes that are going to be teached to childrens.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. FeaturePreacher

    If a class is about teaching a simple language to kids, then no. If a class is about teaching software development, especially around games, then the probability increases.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Phoenixblight


    I am not a programmer by any means. I am a tech artist what I do is help the artist and animators with tools to help with automation, get assets in the engine and I also do rigging for the animators. If I didn’t know the amount of programming I did I doubt I would even be hired but I do and it doesn’t require any math beyond basic algebra. I am not the one making the engine or worry about optimization within the engine. None of my code ever enters the engine its all for the artist and animators to get their stuff inside the same.

    I have made games with Unity and flash and all worked just fine for what they need to do and they all just play fine with my simple hacks. Also there are plenty of tools that released that make thing less code centric like playmaker which is a finite statemachine very much like UDK kismet. Not to mention game Salad and game maker.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. silkvg247

    I’ve written three games so far, one from scratch in XNA (incl. my own engine). Didn’t need maths.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. silkvg247

    @FeaturePreacher: Look, sorry if I ruffled feathers. But I will stand by my point, people shouldn’t be made to feel they can’t become great programmers if they are average at maths. It’s very rare that a programmer will need to work out really complex mathematical algorithms from scratch. Usually they’re be working with a spec, given business rules to put into their program, and they need to make those algorithms work in whatever programming language.

    If you’re talking 3D programming then of course maths are a big boon, but that’s a relatively small area, and as far as I understand it is moving more and more towards existing engines like unity and unreal engine which do all the complex maths for you.

    I know you were just snapping, but fyi retail involves just as much as if not more “head scratching” than games programming. Supermarkets completely rely on sexy code like mine to turn a profit. Also code maintenance; what’s that got to do with maths? Again I find the more readable and maintainable code comes from nutjobs like me rather than your by the books maths-head.

    #10 2 years ago

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