1. All students should learn HTML and CSS sometime between 5th-8th grade.
Since ebooks are taking the place of traditional books, and computing tablets are just around the corner for all American students, young people should know what the devices are comprised of upon which they are reading and writing. (This could branch out to hardware as well.)
Traditional books are made of paper. There’s not much to them. Ebooks come on complex devices that run software that can be easily learned and programmed. HTML and CSS are the structural and presentational ways of displaying data on ebook devices and online. This knowledge will help students make better sense of technology and how it affects their education and leisure. HTML and CSS also set up the foundation for something very important…
This is possibly the most accessible of all programming languages, and it’s a skill many employers want in job candidates. A year or two is plenty to help students think critically and expand their skill sets so they are more marketable–possibly right out of 12th grade.
3. Encourage all students to go to college, but give them the full disclosure.
It’s wonderful if an 18-year-old wants to go to college for the sole purpose of becoming more knowledgeable–and acquiring marketable skills for a job is not in his or her equation. As long as the student knows this going in, I’m cool with that. To tell the student, however, to just “get a degree and everything will work out” is misguided.
We live in a time when going to college makes no sense economically unless a person is pursuing an education that garners skills that can be used in the workforce right now. There’s a lot of jobs just waiting to be filled, but not enough people are applying who fit the minimum description. Our young people deserve to be told that certain degrees are a waste of time (unless the student is independently wealthy), and universities must take into account which degrees are more beneficial to stakeholders than others.
If students and parents are going to go into tens (in not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in debt to attend (not even ivy league) colleges, then the education should at least supply jobs that can pay the monthly student loan debt. Saddling young people with debt before they even have jobs must end. Soon.