Coding Immersion

I grew up attending the French Immersion School in Milwaukee. My kids attending the German Immersion School (MGIS). We all benefitted from these experiences. We learned a lot, and it stuck with us. As someone who deals with code on a daily basis, I was intrigued by the idea of a Coding Immersion School when I saw that Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was implementing several.

I am going to assume that coding immersion is a little different from language immersion, even though code is in another language. On the other hand, since it is another language, I can also understand why a school would want to immerse students in it. While I can only guess how coding immersion works, I can understand the concept as to why it would be useful.

Back when I was in a French school, we learned how to speak in French without the use of Google Translate. Unfortunately, without practice, I do need a little help if I’m going to communicate well in that language today. The fact of the matter is that Google Translate exists, and its vocabulary is huge compared to my own, so if I’m writing in French, it’s there for me. My French is still there, but it’s not nearly as useful as it once was. That would be my only concern about sending my own kids to an immersion school: will it help them after all the work? Knowing German, in my opinion, is probably less useful than knowing French, but that was the right school choice for my kids. They may never use it a lot, especially now that we’ve moved to another city without the program, but it’s still a real language that real people use.

I am not sure if coding fits into being a real language that real people use, especially as we consider the future of coding. I assume, like Google Translate, that coding will get easier and easier. I also assume that knowing the basis for those translations could help. Maybe knowing code will eventually be like knowing Latin. You can’t use it exactly as is, but you know how things got the way they are because of the underlying language. That said, there aren’t any Latin immersion schools that I know of.


Wait, I’m not saying coding will be dead in a few years. I’m just assuming people won’t need it the same way as today, so I wonder how it can be taught in order to be future-proof. I am sure the companies who run these immersion programs could tell me something that might make sense at the sales presentation, but I just have a gut feeling it won’t be as useful as they might imagine right now. Then again, I just thought of a scenario that defeated my own argument at bit: when I wanted to make some of my pages amp-ready for Google, I had to mess with code in a way I had not done in a few years of website building. But that was mostly because I did not want to pay for the paid version of the plugin I was using. But it was something. And hacking. Not that I’ve ever hacked, but trying to find the dirty hackers’ code on one of my aging websites gave me several headaches. When the antivirus software didn’t seem to do enough, I was opening files and looking for the code myself.

Do we need coding immersion schools where kids learn to create apps that have characters that dance to music? I don’t know, maybe. My in-laws were concerned our kids would never learn English properly if they only learned German, but they did just fine, so I’m sure coding kids will learn other stuff well. And maybe it will help with math and logic. Or memorization. Right this second, coding is a great skill to have, but kids learning it today will not be employable for a decade. The foundation will be there, and maybe it can be useful. Personally, I won’t try to get my kids into a similar school in my area, but that’s because they already have a language. If I had kids who were just starting out, I might give coding a chance.

By the way, if you are teaching coding using Chromebooks, check out the Cranium Chromebook link above.

Jacksonville News

New Jax Witty

Articles, reviews, advice, and legitimate research to go along with some back-handed comments. Think of us as Jacksonville's mother-in-law.
  • Only Way to Avoid The Reverse Mortgage Disaster
    I've seen several news articles about the pitfalls of reverse mortgages. I also saw that we've set up a fund to help people when they get stuck with a reverse mortgage here in Florida. But the simple answer that most older people don't want to hear is that there's only one way to avoid disaster with a reverse mortgage: don't get one.

    The ad that inspired this reverse mortgage article claims that Americans have trillions of dollars just sitting there, not being used. The problem is that a reverse mortgage isn't using that money, either. It's using the house that's worth that money as collateral for a LOAN. It's a loan that needs to be paid off when your house is sold. You can make mistakes and end up losing your house.

    The better advice for anyone already retiredor looking to retire is to sell. I know, you love your house, all the stuff in it, the neighbors you wave at, the same big box retail down the road, and all the stuff in the house. It's basic economics: if you own something outright worth $500,000, sell it for $500,000 and rent a nice condo for 20 years. If you take out a reverse mortgage, then you can get $250,000 towards a condo for 10 years, still pay property taxes and insurance on the house, and continue to maintain it so that in a decade, you'll make enough money to pay off your reverse mortgage loan. New AC, new roof, new driveway? That would all eat into the profit on selling your house that you'll need to cover all the interest on the loan. Don't pay a bank for the right to live in a house for your entire life. Avoid reverse mortgages at all costs.
  • Rental Bikes Aren't Exactly For The Homeless
    Local news was down in St. Augustine covering the newly-proposed use of some kind of bike-share rental system. Since it's standard operating procedure, a homeless man was interviewed about the program. He said something to the effect that it would be good to have options for someone like him who can't afford a bike. FYI local news and homeless people: bike rental programs are not really created for the homeless.

    Since I don't claim to know the biking habits of the typical homeless individual, I'm going to assume it involves getting to a place and then back home. Home being a structure in a field outside of town, not where you'd be able to return the bike for credit. My understanding would be that these folks would need the bike to get to and from "work," each and every day. Based on a similar rental system I found online, the 24-hour rental is $24. Alternatively, an annual pass is $80. The problem is that the trips can only be 60 minutes each. Assuming the homeless camp is close enough to downtown, this might work as a way to get around once in St. Augustine. Not a bad yearly price to not have to worry about bike maintenance, anyhow. If you're homeless already, and now you can get as many maintenance-free trips on a bike as you can use each day, then $80 for the year isn't bad at all.

    But wait, there's less. The yearly pass will need to be paid for with a credit card with a fob mailed to an address. So even if these ride share bikes makes sense to homeless people, it might not be something that can be purchased without the help of someone with credit and an address. It might seem like a lot of people would volunteer to do this, but any extra time or any damage would be billed to the credit card, so I certainly wouldn't volunteer my credit in the hopes that someone else will always return the bike in time (or at all). The Cincinnati bike share, for example, charges $1,200 for a bike that is not returned.

    I have a $1,000 bike. At least someone paid $1,000 for it back in 1986. I picked it up amidst college moving day garbage at UW-Milwaukee back in 1999. It was already worth $0 at that point. I've used some tape to hold it together, but it's still worth about $0. Since I'm probably not the only person in the area with a worthless bike, I'm thinking a bike donation for the homeless might make more sense than saying they should be using tourist bikes. That's not to say that bike shares don't have a place in St. Augustine, just that it might be meant for rich tourists instead of homeless interviewees.