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Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi Says Young People Should Study Computer Science, Even if They Won't Become Programmers

"How does the Internet work? How does cyber security work? How is data encrypted? These are all part of computer science."

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

It’s easy to mistake computer science for programming, and Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi says that even the kids who will never work for Google or Microsoft should be educated in digital literacy.

Partovi joined Re/code Executive Editor Kara Swisher on the latest episode of “Re/code Decode,” where he argued that we should start imparting the basics of computer science to kids in elementary school.

“We don’t teach biology or chemistry to kids because they’re going to become surgeons or chemists,” Partovi said. “We teach them about photosynthesis and that water is H2O, or how lightbulbs work, just to understand the world around us. You don’t use any of it, but you do on a day-to-day basis use public-key encryption, and the average American has absolutely no idea what that is.”

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

He explained that reforming education to introduce digital concepts has been, unsurprisingly, easier said than done. Gradually, over time, younger teachers with more modern training will come into schools, but he conveyed a sense of urgency about starting now.

“How do we train the current, existing workforce of teachers so that every school has a course?” he asked. “That will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Listen to or download the episode in the player above, or click here to subscribe to “Re/code Decode” on iTunes; you can also find “Re/code Decode” on TuneIn, Stitcher and Clammr.

Peter Kafka will be back this Thursday to talk to David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, and Kara will be in this space on Monday to talk to California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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