On Wednesday of this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke to President Trump at the White House in a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. He expressed his beliefs that college is no longer necessary and that every child should learn to code:
“Our company, as you know, was founded by a college dropout, so we've never really thought that a college degree was the thing that you had to have to do well. We've always tried to expand our horizons. And, so, about half of our US employment last year did not have a four-year degree, and we're very proud of that. But, we want to get farther.
“To that end, we've looked at the mismatch between the skills that are coming out of college and what the skills are that we believe we need. We've identified coding as a very big one. We believe strongly that it should be a requirement in the US for every kid to have coding before they graduate from K-12. They should be somewhat proficient at it.
“And so we've done a curriculum and provided it to all schools in the US; 4,000 have picked it up. We have a lot further to go. There are a lot more than 4,000 schools in the US, but that is a start. We've also done that with 80 community colleges."
Tim Cook’s coding dream is misguided. Coding is not for everyone. Everyone should not learn to code — just as everyone should not go to college or try to become an artist, a musician, or an athlete.
A few days before Cook’s meeting with Trump, "60 Minutes" broadcast a story about the paucity of girls in computer science. The segment features Bonnie Ross, a corporate VP at Microsoft, who oversees the blockbuster game "Halo." She laments that she can’t hire enough women, because men dominate the field, and believes mandatory coding in school is the cure. It also spotlights Hadi Partovi, an Iranian transplant to Silicon Valley, who founded Code.org, through which, he claims, 10 million girls are now coding.
Paradoxically, according to Tom Kersting, a licensed psychotherapist and family counselor, this push to create more software is irreparably harming children, who are dysfunctionally addicted to smartphones. That’s why, hypocritically, many tech titans don’t let their own kids anywhere near smartphones and other digital devices.
Had Tim Cook demanded that students learn history, civics, critical thinking, and how to speak without saying “like” four times in five seconds, I would have agreed. That knowledge should be mandatory, but it isn’t, because everybody needs it. Coding? Not so much.
Given the inexplicable attraction of many zombies to the lame, oppressive, unworkable policies of socialists Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), it’s clear that they do not know civics, history, simple math, how to think, and how to process basic concepts like supply and demand.
Apparently, the zombies also don’t grasp irony: Bernie, who loves breadlines, owns three houses; AOC’s mother just ditched high-tax New York for Florida.
Students at George Washington University are now demanding that their school change the name of its sports teams, the “Colonials.” Apparently, they think Colonials is synonymous with colonialism and systemic oppression, and isn’t inclusive (of course).
Why do they think this? Because they’re immature, know zero history, and have no perspective on life. But, they do know how to whine and protest.
What’s next? Will they insist that Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company change its name? Should we eliminate colonial-style houses?
How would the ability to code solve this ignorance and immaturity problem?
All of life is not software. Outside of software, coding is useless. But, critical thinking is essential. Plumbers, carpenters, masons, X-ray techs, EMTs, and electricians don’t need to know coding. Why force them to learn it?
For students who want to learn coding, who want to develop software, and display an aptitude for it, and don’t want to waste four years in college, it’s great that public schools will offer it. But, coding is a narrow skill, not a substitute for wisdom.
If these same students don’t know how our government works and why it was formed, don’t know when and why the Civil War was fought and by whom, don’t know about the Holocaust, and don’t know about the limits and hazards of software, they’re not educated.
Anybody, therefore, who suggests that coding is the panacea for the world’s ills is disingenuously selling a bill of goods to people unable to doubt it.
Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs, speaker, media commentator, and author of "Brand Is Destiny: The Ultimate Bottom Line" and "Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding." Find him at MarcRudov.com. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.