Raspberry Pi Electronics demo.

Why Learning Programming is Difficult

by Lewis Loflin

As a vocational instructor I know exactly what the problem is, it's the education system and the students themselves. Liberal politics and social engineering has replaced academics and merit.

Social engineering is killing us. The failure shows up in particular in science and math which often tells how one will perform IT and STEM subjects.

California is the home of Silicon Valley and their 2011 ACT scores are pathetic. Whites and Asians do OK but in science Blacks and Hispanics score near single digits and under 36% in math. For all students it was 34% in science and 57% in math.

Worse only 2 percent of high school graduates taking the ACT even expressed interest in computer information specialties.

Because of complaints that Blacks and Hispanics couldn't compete with Asians and whites in honor classes Fairfax County Virginia dropped them - so are a lot of other schools.

Andrew Hacker professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York believes algebra and other higher math requirements should be dropped from high school and from college admissions requirements. He complains, "six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra".

Another Progressive useful idiot.

In my classes in electronics and electricity at a community college I had to deal with high school graduates that had no real science classes - just biology-ecology survey class mostly centering on climate change. Ditto math or electron theory.

Many could not move a decimal point or even use a scientific calculator, but the class required trig and algebra at minimum to work out phase angles, inductive reactance, and voltage drops.

Being so ill prepared means the instructor has to waste time simply getting them to be able to take the class – which chewed into instruction time for the main subject. I refused to pass students that couldn't do the work and got into trouble of it.

These were white students in Appalachia - over 60% of entering freshmen had to take remedial math and English. What is missing is critical thinking and analytical skills along with basic reading and writing.

The simple fact is many of these failing subgroups don't care - their culture is hostile to education.

Same problem I had growing up in a coal town in Southwest Virginia – thousands showed up at football games – barely a dozen at a science fair even when they were having one.

It's not racism nor discrimination it's culture and aptitude. Like it or not some simply don't have the aptitude for abstract-analytical thinking or book learning.

Using hand-on examples like Arduino or Raspberry Pi is a some help. Before these came out I taught my students using GW Basic and Borland C++ to program a PC printer port to blink LEDs and detect switches and they got it – but there's only so much of that I can do.

Hands on works well to a degree as the projects on my electronics website (www.bristolwatch.com) has shown but there has to be interest to try. Not so oddly much of my web traffic is from Asia.

I'm well aware that dysfunctional households are an impediment to learning - I grew up in one. Excuses like non-English speakers in the home doesn't wash either as shown by the high performance of Asians versus Blacks or Hispanics.

The New York Times reports almost 90% of high-achieving poor students are white and Asian, yet the system is obsessed with low-achieving non-Asian minorities. The question is do we help those that can succeed or do we continue to waste time pursuing unobtainable outcome equality?

I take them at their word.

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