Education, coding skills key to future employment and strong US says Apple CEO Tim Cook

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2018
'Change needs to happen' to the way students are taught in schools, Apple CEO Tim Cook insists in Wednesday's MSNBC town hall interview, with further comments on education touching on how to bring technology to disadvantaged classrooms and why everyone should learn to code.




In the interview with MSNBC and Recode for the "Revolution: Apple Changing the World" special, due for broadcast on April 6, Cook suggested programming was an important tool to learn. "You don't need a four-year college education to learn to code," he insisted, but added the existing focus on coding needs to be widened to add creativity.

This does not just include bringing technology to arts classes, but to other subject areas, with Cook advising it needs to hit the "intersection of liberal arts and technology. That intersection is where we can amplify learning and creativity."

When pressed that many solutions to incorporate technology into education have been attempted but ultimately didn't succeed, Cook was asked if Apple has a handle on what can work. Pointing out Apple's involvement in education for the last 40 years, Cook claims "Our perspective is teachers are jewels. We don't think it is the fault of the teachers."

Apple's products are simply tools, Cook adds, meant to help people instead of replacing them.

On Apple's push to bring iPads to the classroom, Cook states they are a reasonable expenditure for schools and educational institutions, especially when considered over a three to four-year device lifespan. As a reasonably wealthy country, Cook thinks the United States should invest in the concept.

"I think there is a lot more right about public education than there is wrong," Cook mused, with teachers doing a great job to integrate technology into lessons and using it to engage students.

Asked about how all schools, including those in underserved areas, could take advantage of technology, Cook admits "Tech has helped all countries, but hasn't done so equally." Equal opportunities need to be offered, but Cook thinks this has yet to be the case in the United States. Cook warned "Change needs to happen" to the educational system.

In explaining the benefits of learning to code, a teacher pointed out it was for students to learn about problem solving, logic, and how to approach a challenge, skills that can be applied in other areas. Learning about coding is also said to help demystify technology.

"I want America to be strong, first and foremost, and I think to do that, we need to code," insists Cook. "It is a language and it is everywhere in our life. It is problem solving. You need critical thinking to know what is fake and what is real."

The key point of Apple's new focus on creativity "is we want kids to be creatives, not just consumers." Apple wants students to create, to write, to make movies, to record a podcast, using the tools at their disposal.

Looking to the future and employment, Cook declares that "education is lifelong," in that people can't simply go to school for 12 years and stop learning. People need to embrace education as a lifelong process, as jobs are always being replaced by someone or something, forcing people to change.

A suggested opinion of poor future job prospects isn't correct, he suggest, adding that many more jobs have been created than those that have been displaced. However, society has performed a bad job at helping those displaced workers into new opportunities.

When asked if tech companies have a responsibility to help retrain displaced workers, Cook says it should be something where governments and businesses work together to tackle the problem. Apple does have a responsibility, the CEO adds, in that it has even made its own coding language to make it easier to move into technology-related roles, and has tried to produce a suitable curriculum for schools.

"Wouldn't society be great if we could all work a little less but still earn what we do?" Cook mused, before noting there are approximately half a million software jobs not being filled, which will grow to 2 to 3 million in the next few years. More people need to get into coding, he insists, including reaching out to women and unrepresented minorities.

"For Apple, we are taking the responsibility. Businesses should be about more than making revenue and profits."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    It's certainly a step in the right direction!
  • Reply 2 of 19
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 459member
    Despite this push to make everyone a programmer, we still need skilled trades to actually build things. 
    jbdragonkestral
  • Reply 3 of 19
    fmalloyfmalloy Posts: 105member
    We need coders...to code for iOS and MacOS (of course) to further cement Apple's domination. Yes, folks - the answer to jobs and employment is to make everyone a programmer, and sure, all goods can come from overseas. We won't actually build things any more.

    You can't code clothing, furniture, cars, airplanes, MRI machines.

    What is that saying? When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?
  • Reply 4 of 19
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,341member
    fmalloy said:
    We need coders...to code for iOS and MacOS (of course) to further cement Apple's domination. Yes, folks - the answer to jobs and employment is to make everyone a programmer, and sure, all goods can come from overseas. We won't actually build things any more.

    You can't code clothing, furniture, cars, airplanes, MRI machines.

    What is that saying? When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?
    Everyone can code, just like everyone can paint.  Doesn't mean that you'll be good at it.

    There will always be people not coding.  There will always be people that want to farm, do art, make clothing, cars, etc... they're not going anywhere, but they will evolve in some way as automation, and efficiency kicks in.  

  • Reply 5 of 19
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 203member, editor
    fmalloy said:
    We need coders...to code for iOS and MacOS (of course) to further cement Apple's domination. Yes, folks - the answer to jobs and employment is to make everyone a programmer, and sure, all goods can come from overseas. We won't actually build things any more.

    You can't code clothing, furniture, cars, airplanes, MRI machines.

    What is that saying? When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?
    This isn't exactly what Cook was saying. Multiple times during the discussion, he pointed out that companies need to do what they know in an effort to help humanity. Apple, knows coding. They've made a big push by creating a simpler (but powerful) programming language. They've put programs in place for teachers, any teacher, to teach coding to their students. They've made software, apps, and more available for free, and are even helping teachers learn to code.

    Now, obviously, there is a huge benefit to Apple to have kids using their products early, developing on their platform, etc etc. BUT, he stresses that he doesn't expect everyone to be a coder. He highlights that the vast majority won't be. But basic programming teaches language skills, problem-solving, creativity, etc. All of those are basic skills that you do need when trying to design furniture, clothing, or cars. You do need programming for cars, airplanes, MRI machines. You do need to be creative, you do need to know how to solve problems. Cook emphasizes that this is what they want to help with. 

    Basic coding at a young language really can help a worker in any of those areas you talked about. Additionally, the manufacturing jobs are becoming more and more automated, so thinking to the future, Cook believes we need to start developing different skills. 
    dewmerandominternetpersonpatchythepirateTuubor
  • Reply 6 of 19
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 459member
    fmalloy said:
    We need coders...to code for iOS and MacOS (of course) to further cement Apple's domination. Yes, folks - the answer to jobs and employment is to make everyone a programmer, and sure, all goods can come from overseas. We won't actually build things any more.

    You can't code clothing, furniture, cars, airplanes, MRI machines.

    What is that saying? When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?
    This isn't exactly what Cook was saying. Multiple times during the discussion, he pointed out that companies need to do what they know in an effort to help humanity. Apple, knows coding. They've made a big push by creating a simpler (but powerful) programming language. They've put programs in place for teachers, any teacher, to teach coding to their students. They've made software, apps, and more available for free, and are even helping teachers learn to code.

    Now, obviously, there is a huge benefit to Apple to have kids using their products early, developing on their platform, etc etc. BUT, he stresses that he doesn't expect everyone to be a coder. He highlights that the vast majority won't be. But basic programming teaches language skills, problem-solving, creativity, etc. All of those are basic skills that you do need when trying to design furniture, clothing, or cars. You do need programming for cars, airplanes, MRI machines. You do need to be creative, you do need to know how to solve problems. Cook emphasizes that this is what they want to help with. 

    Basic coding at a young language really can help a worker in any of those areas you talked about. Additionally, the manufacturing jobs are becoming more and more automated, so thinking to the future, Cook believes we need to start developing different skills. 
    You make some great points. I can’t think of a single profession, technical or not, that does not require good problem solving skills. 
  • Reply 7 of 19
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,050member
    Fmalloy and others miss the point. The idea behind “Everyone Can Code” is the same as the new “Everyone Can Create:”  The goal is not to turn everyone into a programmer, but to expose everyone to the areas of critical thinking that programming introduces.  Perhaps if we called other programs “Everyone Can Do Math“ and “Everyone Can Make Music,“ he would understand that it’s about exposure to creative thinking methods,  not a single-minded recruitment drive for future Apple programmers. 

     In the same way that not everyone who is in drama in their school becomes a professional actor, the object of “Everyone Can Code“ is not turn everyone into a programmer.  In the case of “Everyone Can Code,” it’s about understanding logic, critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving.  Even if you never write a line of code after leaving those classes, you and your ability to reason will have gained something from having had the experience,  just like you benefit from studying religion, literature, science, music, and cooking, to name but a few areas.

    Some, of course, will find their passion in programming: but the idea is to expose kids to a wide variety of, for lack of a better term, “how stuff works” to make them better, smarter, and more aware as citizens and human beings. 

    I of course haven’t seen this upcoming interview with Cook, but he likely makes the point I made above as explicitly as he did in the Apple education event, which of course I have seen. If you had seen it, you might understand how badly you’ve misunderstood him
    Rayz2016
  • Reply 8 of 19
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,864member
    fmalloy said:
    We need coders...to code for iOS and MacOS (of course) to further cement Apple's domination. Yes, folks - the answer to jobs and employment is to make everyone a programmer, and sure, all goods can come from overseas. We won't actually build things any more.

    You can't code clothing, furniture, cars, airplanes, MRI machines.

    What is that saying? When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?
    This isn't exactly what Cook was saying. Multiple times during the discussion, he pointed out that companies need to do what they know in an effort to help humanity. Apple, knows coding. They've made a big push by creating a simpler (but powerful) programming language. They've put programs in place for teachers, any teacher, to teach coding to their students. They've made software, apps, and more available for free, and are even helping teachers learn to code.

    Now, obviously, there is a huge benefit to Apple to have kids using their products early, developing on their platform, etc etc. BUT, he stresses that he doesn't expect everyone to be a coder. He highlights that the vast majority won't be. But basic programming teaches language skills, problem-solving, creativity, etc. All of those are basic skills that you do need when trying to design furniture, clothing, or cars. You do need programming for cars, airplanes, MRI machines. You do need to be creative, you do need to know how to solve problems. Cook emphasizes that this is what they want to help with. 

    Basic coding at a young language really can help a worker in any of those areas you talked about. Additionally, the manufacturing jobs are becoming more and more automated, so thinking to the future, Cook believes we need to start developing different skills. 
    I totally agree with all of your points. Just because everyone coming through a modern educational system should know something about "coding" as a problem solving tool and solution approach in no way implies that the core education curriculum should be a vehicle to steer everyone into a professional software development career. Tim's not saying that at all. It's no different than exposing children to art, history, social studies, music, literature, and physical education during their formative years. Very few of them will go on to pursue careers that are exclusively based on any one of these subject matter areas.

    The biggest value in my mind about teaching kids about "code" is to demystify it. Composing a solution to a problem using software code should be no more difficult or unnatural than composing a story or reporting on an event using a written language, e.g., English composition.  Using a coding language and algorithms to solve some problems from the many other domains that kids are exposed to should not be seen as magical or mysterious, but as just another one of the many problem solving tools that can be applied to solving problems. It doesn't matter whether relatively few of the students who are exposed to coding go on to become great composers of software applications and architectures any more than it matters that relatively few go on to become great writers or novelists.

    The real problem today, the reason why there is such a shortage of software developers, is that previous generations of children who are now in their middle or later phases of their careers had zero exposure to software/coding during their lifetime and it's still mysterious and unattainable to them. Simply removing the mystery factor of software from a fraction of the kids who are now coming up through the system today will lead more students towards software development careers and more than fulfill the industry requirements for programmers in the future. If this familiarization, demystification, and prioritization doesn't take place at early ages in the US it will certainly take place in other far hungrier and more pragmatic countries. They will own these jobs if we cannot fill them locally.

    Tim Cook isn't kidding and he's not holding back. When he talks about education and acquisition of skills being a lifelong commitment he is laying out the most important factor for the vast majority of workers to stay in the game throughout their career. Sure, some high school dropouts become billionaires, some kids have rich daddies to fund their easy ride, and some PhDs end up flipping burgers. But the best odds of making it for the greatest percentage of working class people are still based on education, lifelong learning, hard work, hard skills, and adaptability.   
  • Reply 9 of 19
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,678member
    chasm said:
    Fmalloy and others miss the point. The idea behind “Everyone Can Code” is the same as the new “Everyone Can Create:”  The goal is not to turn everyone into a programmer, but to expose everyone to the areas of critical thinking that programming introduces.  Perhaps if we called other programs “Everyone Can Do Math“ and “Everyone Can Make Music,“ he would understand that it’s about exposure to creative thinking methods,  not a single-minded recruitment drive for future Apple programmers. 

     In the same way that not everyone who is in drama in their school becomes a professional actor, the object of “Everyone Can Code“ is not turn everyone into a programmer.  In the case of “Everyone Can Code,” it’s about understanding logic, critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving.  Even if you never write a line of code after leaving those classes, you and your ability to reason will have gained something from having had the experience,  just like you benefit from studying religion, literature, science, music, and cooking, to name but a few areas.

    Some, of course, will find their passion in programming: but the idea is to expose kids to a wide variety of, for lack of a better term, “how stuff works” to make them better, smarter, and more aware as citizens and human beings. 

    I of course haven’t seen this upcoming interview with Cook, but he likely makes the point I made above as explicitly as he did in the Apple education event, which of course I have seen. If you had seen it, you might understand how badly you’ve misunderstood him
    True but often times Silicon Valley/tech seems like it’s in a bubble. I’m sure people who live and work in Silicon Valley don’t know anyone who didn’t major in computer science or doesn’t know programming. So to them it only makes sense that everyone learn coding. But not everyone is wired for that, no matter how “fun” you make it with an iOS app.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,050member
    I’m sure people who live and work in Silicon Valley don’t know anyone who didn’t major in computer science or doesn’t know programming. So to them it only makes sense that everyone learn coding. But not everyone is wired for that, no matter how “fun” you make it with an iOS app.
    Well, first of all, that’s not true of course. Lots of people who live in the area called “Silicon Valley” don’t know the first thing about code — same as with Los Angeles, where not everyone is an actor or in the entertainment industry. Indeed “Silicon Valley” is very rich with arts and culture and lots of other things.

    Second, you’re again missing the point. You probably took courses in school that didn’t lead directly to your career, but you nonetheless benefitted from them — from reading Dickens to studying history to struggling with algebra or calculus, the exposure to those things help teach people the real, actual thing schools exist to do: HOW TO THINK. Reason, logic, judgement, social skills, communication — all of these crucial abilities come from studying science, drama, literature, music, poetry, history, languages, and yes — coding. They’re all system for learning how to understand the world and help contribute to making it better, with or without a career in that specific area.

    I hated taking a “shop” class in high school, but it did help me understand how furniture and buildings are built, how to distinguish good materials from bad, how combustion engines work (and how steam power works) and other things that, combined with my science education, allow me to understand new devices and other things I had no prior experience with. I didn’t go into any career related to building skills or science, but the exposure (or as mentioned above, the demystifying of those things continue to serve me well nearly every day.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,421member
    hexclock said:
    Despite this push to make everyone a programmer, we still need skilled trades to actually build things. 
    Agreed. The so-called "Maker Movement" has become very big in recent years, but craftsman guilds to find and recruit skilled tradespeople are something other industries probably need to take action on. Someone will still be needed to dig ditches, cut up trees that fall on the roads and install plumbing. Coding, on the other hand, is complex, demands a logical mind and is syntax intensive. Relatively few people are willing or able to program with a high degree of skill.

    Quite honestly, ALL positions throughout the US (not to mention in other countries) are looking at severe labor shortages. It's simply a matter of demographics. The Baby Boomer generation is dying off, and following generations are much smaller. In addition, the "replacement rate" (TFR, aka Total Fertility Rate) of those dying off versus new people being born continues to fall. This is ONE reason why SOME people are concerned about immigration flow restrictions.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/12/us-births-decline/1880231/

    This all just means that the population of those working and paying taxes are much smaller relative to the population of sick, elderly and invalid/dependent adults. Nothing will change this ratio, so in Japan they are counting on artificial intelligence and advanced robots to care for their elderly in the near term and in the future. From my perspective, Federal and local governments are too big and draw too many tax dollars and they'll have no choice but to drastically cut back on services, renegotiate overly generous retirement and benefits packages with public employee unions and so on.
    edited March 2018
  • Reply 12 of 19
    dougddougd Posts: 213member
    It's Tim Cook's fantasy that everyone should learn to code.  I've done coding in the past but didn't make it my career past about a year.  
  • Reply 13 of 19
    TomETomE Posts: 134member
    Yes, the ability to code & think logically will help people who need to do that.  It helped me considerably - thinking logically, as an engineer and a late in life MBA.  In business school I saw people who could not even use a calculator in Finance.  The Professor kindly told them they were not in "Calculator Class" and he was not going to tell them how to use a calculator.  If they had somehow gotten that far, perhaps they were in the wrong class or field.  I taught myself how to use a calculator, a Hewlett Packard. That calculator helped me to address problems very logically and to learn how to code - I taught myself. The ability to use an RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) calculator has helped me enormously in writing code, including error checking.  I think a person who can really understand RPN has a foot forward in knowing how to think logically and code.  I am thinking, but I don't really know, that this is what Tim Cook was perhaps meaning.  I first address everything in a logical manner; if that does not work, then it has an illogical solution; So,  much for Coding and HP's RPN.  I really don't like entering problems in Algebraic Notation.  One ) ( wrong and you are in trouble.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,647member
    sflocal said:
    fmalloy said:
    We need coders...to code for iOS and MacOS (of course) to further cement Apple's domination. Yes, folks - the answer to jobs and employment is to make everyone a programmer, and sure, all goods can come from overseas. We won't actually build things any more.

    You can't code clothing, furniture, cars, airplanes, MRI machines.

    What is that saying? When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?
    Everyone can code, just like everyone can paint.  Doesn't mean that you'll be good at it.

    There will always be people not coding.  There will always be people that want to farm, do art, make clothing, cars, etc... they're not going anywhere, but they will evolve in some way as automation, and efficiency kicks in.  

    Nope not everyone can code.    Anybody that thinks everyone can code hasn't had to deal with the lower levels of society where stupidity can't be overcome with education or even a baseball bat.   Beyond that you have a very high percentage of the population what would be turned off by the idea of sitting behind a computer for 8 hours a day.   They may be capable but really have talents better used elsewhere.

    Sure the ability to understand computers and the related technologies can impact many industries but again not everyone wants to be bothered.  It is all about filling a niche.  

  • Reply 15 of 19
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,647member
    While I tend to disagree with most of Tim's political views there is one thing I can agree with, our schools suck!!!   I'm 57 and work in an industry that needs fresh blood, that is entry level workers to learn the trade and let me tell you high school graduates are in a deplorable state.  It is very hard to find candidates that have a chance in hell of succeeding and even harder to get woman to even apply.   

    I blame part of this on schools not concentrating on the basics, reading, writing and maths.   Along with this you need to develop a students mine to be able to interact with the physical world.   Art class (at least the simple painting) just doesn't do it in my opinion, what you need is to have students physically making things.   That may be in a shop class, a physics lab or something else; but it needs to be done very early in the students educational career.   Unfortunately this sort of development is completely lacking in many districts across the country.   So we end up with students that can't even adjust the height of their chair while sitting in front of that computer.

    It is hard to really put into words what I'm trying to get at here, but we are graduating students that really don't have a sense of how the world works.   I really don't see the point in "Every Student Can Code", first off the concept is garbage.   More importantly I don't believe that coding skills is the weakest point with high school graduates.    Rather we need to develop a sense for the physical world and how things work.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,756member
    wizard69 said:
    sflocal said:
    fmalloy said:
    We need coders...to code for iOS and MacOS (of course) to further cement Apple's domination. Yes, folks - the answer to jobs and employment is to make everyone a programmer, and sure, all goods can come from overseas. We won't actually build things any more.

    You can't code clothing, furniture, cars, airplanes, MRI machines.

    What is that saying? When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?
    Everyone can code, just like everyone can paint.  Doesn't mean that you'll be good at it.

    There will always be people not coding.  There will always be people that want to farm, do art, make clothing, cars, etc... they're not going anywhere, but they will evolve in some way as automation, and efficiency kicks in.  

    Nope not everyone can code.    Anybody that thinks everyone can code hasn't had to deal with the lower levels of society where stupidity can't be overcome with education or even a baseball bat.   Beyond that you have a very high percentage of the population what would be turned off by the idea of sitting behind a computer for 8 hours a day.   They may be capable but really have talents better used elsewhere.

    Sure the ability to understand computers and the related technologies can impact many industries but again not everyone wants to be bothered.  It is all about filling a niche.  

    "Beyond that you have a very high percentage of the population what would be turned off by the idea of sitting behind a computer for 8 hours a day."

    A huge chunk, if not the majority, of office workers already do that anyway, tapping away at mind-numbing, repetitive work. Better they be coding, doing more creative, mentally-stimulating work.
  • Reply 17 of 19
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,756member
    wizard69 said:
    While I tend to disagree with most of Tim's political views there is one thing I can agree with, our schools suck!!!   I'm 57 and work in an industry that needs fresh blood, that is entry level workers to learn the trade and let me tell you high school graduates are in a deplorable state.  It is very hard to find candidates that have a chance in hell of succeeding and even harder to get woman to even apply.   

    I blame part of this on schools not concentrating on the basics, reading, writing and maths.   Along with this you need to develop a students mine to be able to interact with the physical world.   Art class (at least the simple painting) just doesn't do it in my opinion, what you need is to have students physically making things.   That may be in a shop class, a physics lab or something else; but it needs to be done very early in the students educational career.   Unfortunately this sort of development is completely lacking in many districts across the country.   So we end up with students that can't even adjust the height of their chair while sitting in front of that computer.

    It is hard to really put into words what I'm trying to get at here, but we are graduating students that really don't have a sense of how the world works.   I really don't see the point in "Every Student Can Code", first off the concept is garbage.   More importantly I don't believe that coding skills is the weakest point with high school graduates.    Rather we need to develop a sense for the physical world and how things work.
    "Along with this you need to develop a students mine to be able to interact with the physical world."

    If you read about or watch many of Jony Ive's interviews, he goes into this very topic many times.  He always prefers hiring designers that work with physical objects / prototypes.  Of course, he's talking about it in relation to his design studio / team but it applies in many other fields as well.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 18 of 19
    hexclock said:
    Despite this push to make everyone a programmer, we still need skilled trades to actually build things. 


    I don't see this as a push to make everyone a programmer. This seems more like a push to introduce coding basics in elementary schools. You learn Math, Science, Language, Social Sciences, etc., but doesn't mean you'll make a profession out of all of them.

    It's just to give more exposure to kids so they have more options when they grow up.

    canukstorm
  • Reply 19 of 19
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,756member
    hexclock said:
    Despite this push to make everyone a programmer, we still need skilled trades to actually build things. 


    I don't see this as a push to make everyone a programmer. This seems more like a push to introduce coding basics in elementary schools. You learn Math, Science, Language, Social Sciences, etc., but doesn't mean you'll make a profession out of all of them.

    It's just to give more exposure to kids so they have more options when they grow up.

    Good point.
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