In most parts of the United States, high schools and other secondary education centers require students to take mathematics, science and language to graduate. Historically, these courses are essential for any child to develop into an adult capable of participating in society. However, in modern society, these skills are not enough to create a generation of adults capable of engaging with their world. The technological revolution of the past 40 years has led to computers becoming a ubiquitous and essential part of society and the economy. As such, schools must update their curricula to reflect these changes and require IT training for graduation. This change would better prepare students entering college, finding employment, and participating in our democracy.
Most post-secondary institutions expect incoming freshman to have some familiarity in working with computers. For example, many colleges have replaced physical textbooks and paper exams with computer-based options. Many working-class families may not have the means to keep a computer in the house. Therefore, students without access and experience begin their college experience at a severe disadvantage as they will first have to learn use of new technologies before delving into the course material. However, if high schools mandated all students graduate with a level of technological literacy and training, all students could take their first step into adulthood in stride.
Of course, many students find that college is not the right option for them, and for these students, secondary-school based computer training is vital. Nearly every job in the nation requires use of a computer at some point. For example, all new automobiles include a small computer and interface that allows mechanics to diagnose engine problems. Despite the historic image of the mechanic, who uses his own two hands to fix the problem, modern-day mechanics need an understanding of how to interface their computer with the car’s computer and use the information garnered to resolve the reason for the breakdown. Without gaining computer literacy skills during high school or college, these young adults would have trouble finding even the most “hands-on” jobs, and vastly reduce their earning potential.
Beyond the personal tolls a lack of computer training takes, society as a whole would be harmed. The most accessible forms of news media, namely television and radio, base revenue on advertisements. Therefore, the information available there is often skewed towards generating higher ratings and viewership, even at the cost of context and meaning of a news story. Similarly, government, politicians, and corporations often present issues affecting the public in biased ways that may lead an average person to agree an idea that is not in their best interest. However, information readily available using computers and the internet work as a strong counterbalance. Those unable to use these resources and independently verify what they hear and see in other news media may make decisions and cast votes that will be harmful to themselves and society overall. A secondary IT education would give young adults with the tools needed to make good decisions as citizens based on the facts and their own beliefs.
Secondary school IT training is quickly becoming standard globally. For American children to stay competitive and become responsible members of society, mandatory computer literacy is vital.