Why learning code SHOULD NOT be required.

I want to begin by saying that the debate in question here is whether or not students who pursue a career in the humanities should be required to learn to code. I am in favor of humanities students learning how to code as much as I am in favor of computer science students learning about the neo-classical approach to macroeconomics, or dancers to learn about group theory. I believe that we should all learn as much as we could about anything we like simply because it will help us become better and more rounded people.

This said, I do not think that it should be REQUIRED for humanities students to learn how to code. In the essay Hello Worlds (why humanities students should learn to program), Matthew Kirschenbaum wrote that he was allowed to learn a programming language in lieu of a spoken language because his interest where in the digital humanities. I believe that the key point in this argument is the “his interests” where in that specific field. So, if you are not interested in a specific field that will not be fundamental for the development of knowledge in the area that your interests do lie in? Why not use this time in a way that might be more beneficial for you?

I have some experience with coding, mainly in Python and Java. Leaving aside the fact that languages are based on spoken languages, so they follow certain language conventions so that they make sense to the writer, and they although people might not entirely understand what the code is doing, they could still make sense of it. For example,

x = x+1

It is not necessary to know java to know that we are adding 1 to x while x is less than 100.

Furthermore, I will say that (based on my experience) I have reached the conclusion that only one person with the ability to code is needed in a group to get a good product. In fact, more than one person who knows how to code can become a problem, this is because only one person can write code without it becoming messy, it would be like if two people try to write an essay by just writing all of their ideas at the same time. This means that what would be useful is to have more than one mind working on the problem together, but you don’t NEED to know how to code to know how to solve a problem. For instance, you don’t need to know how to implement a loop to know that to solve a problem you must go through every element in a list; as long as ONE of your partners knows how to implement it, then the problem can be solved.

I can see the argument of how time consuming it would be for only one person to write a whole program, and I will agree with this, coding can take time and debugging might be annoying. However, the argument goes both ways, investigation in the humanities also takes time and the more the merrier, so, as I said before, computer scientists should be required to learn humanities then.


One Comment

  1. People tend to forget that programming can be quite hard and frustrating especially if you’ve never done it before. I think as well coding is sometimes not even worth the headache when other non-coding applications and methods exist.

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