Education is the Safeguard of Democracy

Prague LibraryFor the wellbeing of our planet, our country, ourselves and all people, education must do more than just prepare people to have jobs. In places where citizens have the right and responsibility to vote, it’s imperative that they understand what they’re voting for or against.

Democracy requires that we have an understanding that is more than just being able to remember facts and the ability to form or remember “common sense” opinions. Understanding complex issues requires critical thinking and logic, combined with exposure to diverse ideas and the promotion of developing free thought.

Apple’s recent decision to not weaken the security of the iPhone at the request of the FBI is perfect case study. In order to appreciate the importance of the issue, you have to see it within the bigger picture of America’s history with regards to personal privacy, the history of encryption, the technical difficulties associated with breaking codes, and the ease with which a technique for breaking a code in one case can be replicated for millions of cases. It isn’t just about a single phone that may contain information that the FBI would find helpful.

An incomplete understanding of any of the issues; from historic to technical; can lead to bad decisions that could make every user of computing devices vulnerable to massive invasions of privacy; as well as theft of confidential information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and more. Limited perspectives, whether the result of strong emotions or purely technical considerations, can cause us to make erroneous decisions.

Currently, coding boot camps and programming intensives are viewed by many, including many successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, as valuable on ramps to high-paying careers. And, there’s no denying that they definitely can be. However, WatzThis? has a broader vision.

We believe that coding and computer science should be taught not purely as an elective or technical skill, but as a liberal art. By teaching comprehensive computer science, students not only become better suited for the job market ahead of them, but better citizens of the world at large. With this in mind, WatzThis? has begun work on a project to teach applied computer programming within this larger context.

With the election season upon us, we’ve been hearing a lot what we need to do to “fix” the problems facing our country. Regardless of what side of the political divide you’re on and what you consider to be the most important problems we collectively face, part of the solution is sensible, intelligent education.