Java vs. Javanese

By Jake Christensen

I hated Spanish class.

Whenever I entered that classroom, everything stopped making sense and I felt my enthusiasm and energy leave me.

However, computer science was an entirely different story. I instantly fell in love with the subject. I picked it up almost immediately. It was like I had found what I was born to do.

I used to joke that my proficiency in a computer language should exempt me from taking a foreign language class. It surprised me to learn that Texas high schools have adopted such a policy, with New Mexico and Utah following their lead. While it is nice to see that states are recognizing the importance of computer science, it should not be a replacement for the foreign language requirement.

First, the two subjects and the skills required to excel in them are completely different. Computer science is more than learning a programming language, and is more about math and science than language arts. This makes putting them in the same subject area very counterintuitive.

In addition, an increasingly globalized world economy has made learning a foreign language increasingly important, if not absolutely necessary. Utah has recognized the value of foreign language skills, and is actually making its foreign language curriculum more rigorous rather than less so. There is also the concern that taking computer science instead of foreign language may hurt a student’s chances in the college application process, an issue that Amy Hirotaka in her article.

Finally, and most importantly, better computer science education should not come at the expense of traditional education. In a world where we increasingly depend on technology, computer literacy is a principal concern. However, education in general is lacking in the United States. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranked the U.S. 36th in education overall. Clearly, we need a major overhaul of our public education system, and offering computer science instead of foreign language studies will not help us attain a higher standard for our schools.

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