Should Computer Science Be a Core Subject?

Now that Covid-19 is over, there’s a new epidemic in town:  Artificial Intelligence. And with so many companies seemingly hopping onto the ChatGPT train, it can only be asked, are schools adequately preparing students for the perceptron-laden path that is the future? 

While the prospect for programmers is uncertain, it’s clear that computer science will be pervasive in our lives — perhaps even right up there with math and language arts.  To understand the zeitgeist of our school’s computer science scene, I made sure to talk with a few of Hall’s computer scientists.

Edison Chen, a current AP Computer Science A student, and CS ambassador, believes that computer science should be treated like the foreign languages ASL, Chinese, French, and Spanish. Given how widespread computer science has become, this is not a complete stretch.

I’m sure a few readers are not unfamiliar with generative chatbots themselves. With the sanctity of the you-do-your-own-work motto being encroached upon, some teachers have even taken it into their own hands to instead embrace the AI revolution. I had an assignment in AP Psychology where we had to use ChatGPT to generate a response and then use a textbook to analyze the extent to which it is correct. 

But does this justify making computer science a core subject? Possibly not. The issue subsists on having eager programmers lining up to learn, and while computer skills are increasingly demanded in every sector, mandating computer science could prove to be detrimental. Computers aren’t exactly cheap, either.

Some computer science students are not interested in having computer science being a core subject. Jacob Thomas, a teacher’s assistant for AP CSA and a former AP CSA student himself, believes it “shouldn’t necessarily be a part of the core curriculum, but we should have a better structured and advertised introductory course … the options are either an AP level course which is too daunting to many students, or a terrible introductory course where you learn very little.” 

But then again, computer science isn’t just about learning to code. It’s the ability to problem-solve, analyze, deduct, reason, and think. And perhaps computer science could be the perfect yellow brick road to teach us these fundamental skills. 

While it’s debatable whether computer science isn’t advertised enough (we see a lecture on CS course selection every year), it certainly stands that computer science could see more pampering at Hall High School.

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that computer science is here to stay. So on that note, I wish all of Hall’s programmers — and all of Hall’s non-programmers — success.