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The Fourth 'R'

The Fourth 'R'

As technology continues to grow at an increasing rate, why is our educational system stuck in a pre-technology age? Why is programming rarely taught even at a High School level? Why do stereotypes of the isolated, nerdy programmer continue to linger, driving away smart, creative people from computer science degrees?

'The Three Rs' of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic have come to stand as the cornerstones of education in this country. We need to step into the 21st century and add a fourth R -- Programming. As a community of programmers and Ruby lovers, we should work to advocate Ruby as the fourth R.

This is not just an education problem. This is also a diversity problem, and even a technological advancement problem. Negative programming stereotypes drive away women and minorities. Difficulty finding programming talent hampers technological innovation and growth. The technology community has stood by for decades waiting for education to catch up -- instead, we need to be the catalyst of change within the system.

I want the flying cars I was promised, and teaching today's children programming from an early age is the fastest path to a Jetsons future.


Davy Stevenson

March 07, 2013


  1. The Fourth 'R' Ruby on Ales 2013

  2. About Me Davy Stevenson / @davystevenson Software Engineering Manager at

    Elemental Technologies in Portland, OR
  3. Vision of the Future

  4. Reading Writing Arithmatic Programming

  5. Elementary School

  6. Logic Problem Solving Hands‐on Activity

  7. Middle School

  8. Write Basic Programs How Computers Work Algorithms, Data Structures

  9. High School

  10. Choice to Specialize Advanced Courses Plus more Basics

  11. Benefit?

  12. Core Understanding Impact All Industries Tech as a Tool

  13. Education Today

  14. Computer Labs Research and Essay Writing

  15. First Introduction? High School!

  16. Two Tracks Word + Excel Building Computers Programming?

  17. 10% Teach Programming

  18. Sine & Cosine vs For & While

  19. Money == Motivation? Tangible Interesting

  20. Stereotypes Form Early Moldable

  21. Fear of Engineering == Fear of Math

  22. Raise Your Hand Computer Internet

  23. 20% No Internet Access Under $15K? 43%

  24. 9% Outside Internet Access School, Work, Library

  25. Correlations

  26. STEM Interest Access to Tech Income & Minority Status

  27. Who Cares? Affirmative Action? Globalization Threat? Dwindling Workforce?

  28. Cultivate Creativity Different Background Different Perspective Different Ideas

  29. Drive Innovation

  30. Breaking Stereotypes

  31. Early Engagement Hands‐on Activities Collaboration

  32. Role Models Teacher Awareness Girls Groups Minority Groups?

  33. Chess for Success

  34. Problem Solving Low Income Schools Improves Math and Reading Engages

  35. Why Us?

  36. Knowledge Teachers Cultivate Environment

  37. Engage Curiosity

  38. Thrive on Problems

  39. Improve Society Unique position Alter future

  40. Why Ruby?

  41. Syntax Matters Frustration kills enthusiasm Focus on algorithms & logic

  42. Ruby p u t s ' H e l l

    o W o r l d '
  43. C # i n c l u d e <

    s t d i o . h > i n t m a i n ( i n t a r g c , c h a r * a r g v [ ] ) { p r i n t f ( " H e l l o , w o r l d ! \ n " ) ; r e t u r n 0 ; }
  44. C# u s i n g S y s t

    e m ; c l a s s P r o g r a m { p u b l i c s t a t i c v o i d M a i n ( ) { C o n s o l e . W r i t e L i n e ( " H e l l o , w o r l d ! " ) ; C o n s o l e . R e a d K e y ( t r u e ) ; } }
  45. Java p u b l i c c l a

    s s H e l l o W o r l d { p u b l i c s t a t i c v o i d m a i n ( S t r i n g [ ] a r g s ) { S y s t e m . o u t . p r i n t l n ( " H e l l o , w o r l d ! " ) ; } }
  46. Python Logo Scheme p r i n t " H

    e l l o , w o r l d ! " p r i n t [ H e l l o , w o r l d ! ] ( d i s p l a y " H e l l o , w o r l d ! " )
  47. How?

  48. Be a Proponent

  49. Programming is Fun Shouldn't be a secret

  50. Speak Out Support Reform Vote

  51. Provide Space Provide Tools

  52. Want More?

  53. Mentor

  54. After School Summer Camps Inside the Classroom

  55. Direct Impact Measurable Change a Life

  56. Scaling Locality

  57. Teach the Teachers DRYing Things Out

  58. Not a Teacher? That's OK!

  59. Build Tools

  60. No Denial Skills Time

  61. DRY Multi‐threaded Design

  62. Games / Puzzles Podcasts / Screencasts Poignant Guides

  63. Towers of Hanoi PB&J Sandwich Secret Messages Personal Facebook

  64. Kids Ruby Hackety Hack

  65. Mod Minecraft JRuby & RubyBukkit

  66. Code.org

  67. None
  68. None
  69. None
  70. None
  71. None
  72. None
  73. Up to You