Many people believe that because computer science is an expanding field, all students should learn how to code in order to better work within their own field. While I believe that learning to code can help you think in new and interesting ways, I do not think that students outside of the field of computer science should be required to learn how to code.
“… all who consider themselves scholars of the humanities should realize that the discourse of programming is only the technical jargon with which computer scientists address many of the very same questions that one encounters every day in the humanities.”Evan Donahue, A “Hello World” Apart(why humanities students should NOT learn to program)
I like this quote from Evan Donahue’s article because it points out the fact that understanding jargon isn’t what makes someone a better intellectual. As Donahue says, learning to code and interacting with the computer sciences is clearly one way to learn more and expand the possibilities of what one can do within the humanities. Still, requiring everyone to code would just be a requirement and would not enrich everyone’s individual learning. Donahue does not dissuade people from learning to program, but makes the distinction that it shouldn’t be another barrier for someone to interact with fields outside of their own. The goal is for humanities students to collaborate with computer programmers, but we shouldn’t force them to learn computer science basics to get to the point of collaboration.
In my experience, computer science is a very intimidating field, especially because it is dominated by white men. Still, it is interesting to me and I found coding to be really enjoyable when I took Intro CS last year. What I like about computer science is similar to what I like about math. It is all about solving puzzles and making things work.
My second exposure to coding was in a digital humanities class about the history of music and dance in Latin America. I really enjoyed creating digital projects and learning basic HTML in a setting geared for more underrepresented groups. In this class, I felt that who I was mattered just as much as what I could create. In this sense I think that computer science could benefit from being in greater conversation with humanities fields.
Overall, I think what attracts people to computer science is the ability to create, and in many ways this stems from our capitalist society. I really do enjoy creating digital projects by using what I have learned to create something so accessible. However, humanities shouldn’t be any less valid because they tend to create different types of materials and focus on discussion. These fields should try to learn from each other’s strengths rather than pushing one to evolve with the other.
Still, there is something so thrilling about seeing your first line of code work. I will always remember it.