I took AP Calc my junior year of high school, and by that point, I didn’t have to take any more math classes. I could have taken the easy way out senior year and not have anything to do with numbers or equal signs or gross stuff like that, but the problem was that I’m actually interested in math and science and I didn’t want to be a total lazy couch potato just because I could. So, I elected to take this class that met twice a week at 7:30 in the morning (incredible that I chose this for myself, right? Seriously. I must have been immune to Senioritis or something) to talk about various things. The class was called “Advanced Topics in Mathematics” and the teacher (a really awesome smart guy who was humorous and had the best freaking collection of ties ever) made it his point to expose us to the ways math could be used beyond a high school classroom. Everyone always says, “when am I ever going to need algebra or trigonometry or calculus again?!?”. His class was the answer. We explored all different types of things, from group theory (which applies to Rubik’s cubes), special relativity (which has to do with not just time and space, but space-time), and, most importantly, coding. Each new topic required a new page on our website that proved we understood the topic. But a new page didn’t mean a new post on something like WordPress or blogger.com. A new page meant a literal new page on a website we had created from scratch, using code. Our first project was to learn code, and from then on, we were expected to use it to explain complex ideas. It was really hard, but also really fun.
My experience with code taught me a lot about how we think, and I’m definitely interested in learning how to do it better, because the stuff I did in high school was hardly advanced at all. But I recognized that it was extremely valuable, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to learn it in a classroom setting. I also understand that my experience is pretty rare, even in my high school. The only reason I was able to take that class was because I had skipped two grades of math, and if the class hadn’t fit into my schedule, I would have been at a loss. I fully support, however, the idea of more schools making coding classes available to more students. It’s a really important tool.