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Google Blogger: Vietnamese HS Students Excelling At CS 291

Posted by timothy
from the pho-great-justice dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Google engineer visiting Vietnam discovered a large portion of Vietnamese high school students might be able to pass a Google interview. According to TFA (and his blog), students start learning computing as early as grade 2. According to the blogger and another senior engineer, about half of the students in an 11th grade class he visited would be able to make through their interview process. The blogger also mentioned U.S. school boards blocking computer science education. The link he posted backing up his claim goes to a Maryland Public Schools website describing No Child Left Behind technicalities. According to the link, computer science is not considered a core subject. While the blogger provided no substantial evidence of U.S. school boards blocking computer science education, he claimed that students at Galileo Academy had difficulty with the HTML image tag. According to the school's Wikipedia page, by California standards, Galileo seems to be one of the state's better secondary schools."
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Google Blogger: Vietnamese HS Students Excelling At CS

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  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday March 25, 2013 @12:16AM (#43267497)

    High school is lax because we don't have tiered curricula like other countries. The slackers staying in school because they'd be arrested otherwise are sitting next to the kids planning on going for PhDs. We need tiered programs so that those pursuing further education aren't slowed down by the kids who are just looking to finish and go off into the work force.

  • Not Blocking Per Se (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KeithIrwin (243301) on Monday March 25, 2013 @12:30AM (#43267561)

    What's happened is that the national standard for computing education in this country (which have been adopted by most states) are set by a board of specialists who all specialize in the use of computers in education. They don't specialize in computer science. There are no computer scientists on the board at all. As such, they recommend that teachers teach the sort of skills which make the computer useful in reinforcing learning in other subjects because that's what they specialize in. So, for example, they might recommend that students learn how to use spreadsheets in middle school because it helps them in analyzing experimental data in middle school science. Or they might recommend that students learn how to browse the web because it helps them practice reading and study skills. But they don't recommend learning programming because it is outside of their specialty and they likely don't understand how programming can be used to reinforce learning in other subjects (which I would argue that it can be used very effectively to do so for many subjects, especially math and science).

    If we want to change this, we need to get state level boards of education to adopt different standards. That's how change will happen.

  • by wichawa (2716799) on Monday March 25, 2013 @01:52AM (#43267833) Journal

    Anyone who knows anything about abrogation knows that Islam is an evil ideology, racist and certainly not a religion of peace.

    As a non-Muslim, completely non religious person that has recently read the Bible, the Quran, and the Chumash, I feel like this statement is incredibly bigoted. All of your follow up statements only cement my feelings about your bigotry.

    The only way you can state this without being bigoted is if you also state that every organized religion is an evil ideology rooted in racism, and not respectful of peace. No religion should be taught in public schools (save for topical interest/history classes) and I have no idea why you brought this into an article discussion regarding CS education. You could have simply stated that some schools are misappropriating their funds/energy on various other types of programs, when there money/energy would be better spent with programs like Computer Science.

    To counter your bigotry, I posit that in order to protect its survival and serve its own self interests, every organized religion is constantly waging a war for your "soul," also known as your money/goods/services/time. This is done in many ways with many tactics or justifications, but the end goal of every major world religion is for one religion to reign supreme - be it the Yahweh/Allah schools of thought or some other totally cool god/gods I've never heard of. Faith does not co-exist with other organized faiths, as every faith is right and no faith uses the scientific method to show how much more right said faith might be. How is the Muslim ideology that much different than that of the Jewish and Christian faiths when all three schools of thought believe in the exact same mythical character that governs the universe?

    Maybe, instead of more Computer Science education for kids and teens around the globe, we should just have more education focused in logic.

    This should help create better theory around computational processes and design anyways, and would prevent entire internet posts from being written - like the one I am responding to right now..

  • by theVarangian (1948970) on Monday March 25, 2013 @04:23AM (#43268405)

    I'm not being elitist here (well, perhaps I a little)... but most people can't code. They can't be taught to code, save for in a very limited manner.

    The thing is... there are a billion people in china, and the same percentage will be able to code as are here.. You _cannot_ teach people to code if they cannot. It takes a slightly odd mindset, IMO.


    ergo... there are always going to be more coders, or those with aptitude to code in China than in the west. I think it's just something we're going to have to deal with.

    So... who said anything about China? TFA is about Vietnam, which has less than a third of the population of the US.

    Sigh... Whether he used Vietnam or China as an example is immaterial. If one reads the part of his comment that you conveniently skipped, you will find that he was trying to point out that while the percentage of people that possess the aptitude for coding is probably more or less the same in different populations of modern humans, in areas with high population density there are going to be more talented coders. This is kind of obvious to anybody with a rudimentary grasp of statistical analysis, but people still go "Ooooh.... small Asian country country has lots of coders... what are they doing that we are not? Is there something in the water?". What it really boils down to is population density, quality of education, student motivation and the priorities government and educators set in schools which in Asia is Maths, Physics, CS and other technology related subjects and last but not least whether or not scripture thumping zealots are allowed to dictate what gets taught is schools.

  • by Kal Zekdor (826142) <kal.zekdor@gmail.com> on Monday March 25, 2013 @04:38AM (#43268469) Homepage

    I'm not being elitist here (well, perhaps I a little)... but most people can't code. They can't be taught to code, save for in a very limited manner. The thing is... there are a billion people in china, and the same percentage will be able to code as are here.. You _cannot_ teach people to code if they cannot. It takes a slightly odd mindset, IMO. ergo... there are always going to be more coders, or those with aptitude to code in China than in the west. I think it's just something we're going to have to deal with.

    So... who said anything about China? TFA is about Vietnam, which has less than a third of the population of the US.

    Sigh... Whether he used Vietnam or China as an example is immaterial. If one reads the part of his comment that you conveniently skipped, you will find that he was trying to point out that while the percentage of people that possess the aptitude for coding is probably more or less the same in different populations of modern humans, in areas with high population density there are going to be more talented coders. This is kind of obvious to anybody with a rudimentary grasp of statistical analysis, but people still go "Ooooh.... small Asian country country has lots of coders... what are they doing that we are not? Is there something in the water?". What it really boils down to is population density, quality of education, student motivation and the priorities government and educators set in schools which in Asia is Maths, Physics, CS and other technology related subjects and last but not least whether or not scripture thumping zealots are allowed to dictate what gets taught is schools.

    I read his entire comment. If Vietnam has more high school students who have some knowledge of CS than the US, then it follows that there is a difference in educational policy that is the cause. If China has more than the US, as in his post, then population differences could explain that. The country used in his example is very much material, as a country with less population than us, but more programmers would completely invalidate said example. (If TFA is accurate, of which I cannot be certain.)

    However, I can be certain that the educational system in the US needs a serious overhaul. Our students are abysmal in math and science when compared with other major nations. Education should be the primary focus of our government spending. Doing so will have more long term benefits for us as a nation than any other expenditures.

  • by bertok (226922) on Monday March 25, 2013 @05:44AM (#43268693)

    Figuring I suppose that if the next generation is uneducated they will be cheaper to employ.

    Assuming a giant conspiracy is rarely the correct answer.

    I suspect that it's simply a side effect of a society's path towards modernisation.

    First, lets go back to the fundamental problem: I, as a professional programmer with a CS degree, would make 3-5x more income doing work in the industry than I would as a teacher. This isn't even skipping the side-benefits of a teaching career such as long holidays, I get more free time as a consultant or contractor than I would as a teacher and still make truckloads more money. This is typical around the western world, and not just in computer science, but many other areas as well.

    It wasn't always so! Not so long ago, roughly around the time my grandparents were teaching classes, they were in a "respected profession" that made them one of the best incomes in their home town.

    So what changed? Well, progress did. Essentially, the problem is that most other jobs became more productive, often at a staggering rate. A machinist today can make more widgets with better quality than he could a hundred years ago because of automation and better tools. A factory makes more products. A manager managing workers oversees more productivity. A programmer can work on computers millions of times faster than the first computers, using abstract high-level languages that are vastly more productive to use than assembler was.

    All of this has translated into increased income (due to increased productivity) for just about everyone, except teachers, because education has remained largely stagnant in terms of productivity for centuries now. Class sizes are still "optimal" at roughly 30 students per teacher. There is no way to teach certain material to average students before they're old enough, so the process can't be sped up either. The kids get one year older in exactly one year, like they always have! No new technologies have come about either to enable a typical high-school teacher to effectively teach even 300 students, let alone thousands.

    Of course, that's not entirely true: new technologies for teaching more efficiently have come about, they just don't look anything at all like a typical classroom, because that has insurmountable scalability problems. Instead, things like the Khan Academy, wiki text books, Wikipedia itself, and the like are slowly starting to make progress towards more efficient and scalable education.

    However, none of that translates to increased teacher pay, which is not unusual, because even though it looks like an intellectual profession, in terms of productivity it behaves a lot more like manual labour. A good teacher can teach better, but not more. This is the problem, not some giant conspiracy. The market prices manual labour with low wages, because automation is more efficient and produces more value.

  • by nukenerd (172703) on Monday March 25, 2013 @06:06AM (#43268769)
    Jopson wrote :-

    [Citation needed]

    You need a reference for people having a whole range of different personalities, intelligence, capabilities and personalities?

    There are many, many people (indeed the vast majority) who just do not have the excruciatingly logical (and perhaps blinkered) mind that a good programmer requires. Unless there is some major racial difference with the Vienamese (I am prepared to believe there is some) the Google blogger is talking bollocks. Even among engineers: I have worked with other engineers all my life and there are some who simply do not have a coder's mindset. I thought I did (I do some small apps in C as a hobby) until I met some real expert coders. The are not "better" people, they just have that particular capability and were certainly less good than I am in other areas like getting a broken-down machinery going again, my own particular skill.

    Many people are no more likely to make good programmers than I am to be a good chat-show host - believe me.

  • by nukenerd (172703) on Monday March 25, 2013 @06:16AM (#43268803)

    The point is that nearly all jobs of the future will require programming ability.

    One of the silliest statements I have seen here for some time.

    In the early days of computers it was assumed that you got one to write programs on it. Many people said they would never want a computer because they would never want to write programs. Then games and apps came along, Progressively since then, programming became more and more the province of the specialist.

    We have even reached the point where people do not even expect toi have to use a keyboard, let alone type code, and soon it will be just voice control.

    Your statement is like someone in 1900 saying that soon everyone will need to build a car for themselves.

  • Nickle B (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bayoudegradeable (1003768) on Monday March 25, 2013 @07:23AM (#43269091)
    NCLB (called Nickel B around here in the education world) encouraged schools to ditch CS,arts, Latin, and any course that wasn't in the core tested areas. Schools were forced to play ball if they wanted to "be successful." A HUGE problem with NCLB was that it mandated tons and tons of requirements, then provided virtually no funding to ensure those requirements come to life. So that created a system where any resources being spent on non-core issues were pulled off of non-core and put onto core NCLB goals. So in addition to the whole "teach the test" mentality, it gutted many, many programs. But how many districts nation-wide had strong CS programs to begin with? That was just stuff for a handful of uber-smart nerds; most kids were never going to go near that so not a lot of money was put into it. I am sure you can cite your super awesome school as a counter-example. However, of all the public schools in our country, the total number with strong CS programs was and remains tiny. And in the code world, ever meet a coder/tech guru that doesn't have a college degree? What about those that didn't even finish high school in a traditional manner? How many top skilled professions does that occur in? Clearly, the subject is not being taught successfully.
  • by Kal Zekdor (826142) <kal.zekdor@gmail.com> on Monday March 25, 2013 @10:27AM (#43270543) Homepage

    Undoubtedly. The key is to maximize resource efficiency, taking into account not just taxes over the individual's life, but also potential welfare and unemployment costs, prison and law enforcement costs (good education is proven to reduce crime rates), and the societal benefit gained from the individual (which is hard to measure, though). Every student should receive the education required for them to excel at a job that they both want to and are able to perform; no more, no less.

    That said, in the US at least, the demand for unskilled labor will continue to drop, due to automation in the long term and outsourcing in the short. I wrote a fairly detailed research paper on this in college. There will never (within the next few centuries, anyway) be zero need for unskilled labor, but unemployment rates will always be higher for those without much education. Unemployed workers (those that are physically able and willing to work) are indicative of failure at societal and economical levels, and a costly one.

    A person who earns $40k a year (a low base for skilled labor) will give roughly $10k a year in taxes, at Federal, State, and Local levels combined. If this person works at that salary (modulated only by inflation), for 50 years, then that is half a million in taxes alone over that person's lifetime. If we spent half of that on that person's education to get them there, then from a purely financial standpoint, that's a net gain for the government. I don't know how much is spent per child by the government, but I doubt it approaches anywhere near a quarter million over the length of their education.

    Then there is the fact that, as a society, investing in education makes society as a whole better. Increased education lowers crime. That benefits me, sure, I'll help pay for that. Increased education increases supply of skilled labor, lowering costs. That benefits me, sure, I'll help pay for that. Increased education makes it more likely that useful technology or life saving medicine is invented. That benefits me, sure, I'll help pay for that. Et cetera, et cetera.

    (Off-topic: Nice signature. I always wondered if that idea had a proper term, but never got around to doing the research. I referred to it as the observer bias, usually when trying to explain to people that it is not miraculous that Earth supports life.)

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