Don’t Stay In School?

This weekend, I stumbled upon a YouTube video so articulately titled, “Don’t Stay in School”.

At first watch, I was inclined to dismiss it as a silly creation, but the song tossed around in my head the entire day.  I realized: I can relate to this. Yes, everything he is saying makes so much sense! Or does it?

“If you can’t explain why a subject is applicable to most people’s lives, that subject should not be mandatory…Nobody should be forced to learn something that isn’t practically useful.”

Yes, but how can anyone possibly know what pieces of information will be applicable to the rest of their lives in high school? How many of us actually knew what we wanted to become in high school?

“Introduce those topics, yes.” But all of high school IS introducing various topics. The basics of mathematics, science, english, and history – principles that changed the world and have led us to where we are right now – are taught, and we can choose what we like and continue on with it.

The “practical information” mentioned in the video – first aid, human rights, current events, financial information – are concepts that do not require years of study to understand; in fact, we learn most of them even through experience and exposure to the world.

However, algebra, geometry, and calculus cannot be learned so quickly – they require years of study and building upon concepts. The history of the human race – essential in learning from our past mistakes and successes – cannot be “introduced” so quickly. The biology of how our body works and the chemistry of the world around us took centuries to understand and cannot be introduced so lightly, either.

That said, yes, it is true that not everyone will find these topics useful in later life. But how will you know that you won’t use this, don’t like that or don’t want to learn about this until after you know about it? I’ve personally changed my career plans several times after taking certain classes, even if I did not find those topics “useful” or “practical” in the beginning. If we all stopped learning things we don’t find practical or useful, humankind would never progress.

All being said, I am not saying that there is no problem in our educational system. Certainly, real life skills are not emphasized as much, but all of what we learn is not impractical “trivia”,  no matter how useless it may appear.

 

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5 Websites To Learn How to Code

“I literally coded Facebook in my dorm room and launched it from my dorm room. I rented a server for $85 a month, and I funded it by putting an ad on the side, and we’ve funded ever since by putting ads on the side.”
-Mark Zuckerberg

Often times, the most successful coders started out on their own – learning the basics of coding through the ever-resourceful Internet.

All right, be honest. Have you ever dreamed of creating the next best-selling app, designing a gorgeous blog to showcase your artwork, or creating the next Candy Crush/ Flappy Bird? Of course you’ve all had brilliant moments of creative inspiration for such things, so what’s stopping you? Learn to code your dreams!

Here are some of the best of the Web to get you started; I promise to you this is not “way over your head”. Put in some time and effort and you’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of.

1. Codeacademy
This interactive website offers guided, easy to understand tutorials on some of the most essential computer languages out there : Python, HTML, Ruby, and more. I’ve actually learned web design through this website.

2. EdX
EdX by MIT is an open-source platform offering courses from universities around the world like MIT and Harvard. In other words, you can take a college course on almost anything from the comfort of your home, taught by the world’s best of the best! Here are some picks for coding:
Harvard’s Intro to Computer Science
Microsoft’s Programming with C#
MIT’s Intro to Computer Science and Programming Using Python

3. Code School
“We combine gaming mechanics with video instruction and in-browser coding challenges that make learning both educational and memorable. With more than 40 courses covering JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Ruby, Git, and iOS, Code School pairs experienced instructors with meticulously produced, high-quality content inspired by our community and network of members.”
This resource offers several “language paths” to go through including iOS development (go build your app huh?), as well as screencasts to build up your skills.

4. Coursera
Yes, this is similar to MIT’s EdX, providing free courses on various topics from universities around the world. A few selected picks:
University of Maryland, College Park & Vanderbilt University’s
“Mobile Cloud Computing with Android”

University of Colorado’s Beginning Game Programming with C#

5. W3Schools
Great starter to learning web design essentials. If you’ve ever wanted to design your own blog or website, go forth!

There are tons of resources out there to begin learning anything from web design to game programming to Bioinformatics. I encourage you to go explore and make something! Bring to life your wildest imaginations!

Please do comment any suggestions for other websites or your own experiences learning coding!
Yours truly,

STEMGirl.