Experts Report: “Problem Solving is Important”: The Value in Teaching Programming


Student working on computer


Senior Lecturer of Computer Science Matthew BauerThere’s this idea that’s, starting for a few years now, that we might not need programmers anymore, that artificial intelligence will build a program for us. 

And so the problems aren’t programming problems. They’re still framing the problem, it's abstraction, but it's not a programming problem anymore. 

And so these high school teachers are like, ‘Should we still be teaching programming?’ You know, that's even at the college level we've talked about that. All of our courses that someone might look at and say that's a programming course, I argue with them, ‘No, look at the course description. It doesn’t, it’s not a programming course. It's a problem-solving  course.’ 

I don’t care if you can program. I care if you can solve problems. Programming is a, because of all the tools and maybe even AI, I tell students it's a dime a dozen. Who cares? Problem solving is important. 

To understand how to problem solve, you have to understand how a computer really works. It’s this binary machine. You have to understand algorithms, you have to understand a lot of other things. 

Having students understand if you know how a computer works that’s going to help you be a better software engineer, that’s something that I think will always be true.