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3 Reasons Why "Computational Literacy" Is Ruining Coding Education

I was sifting through my Twitter feed recently when I came across the link to a Kickstarter project for a coding education game. The project was a well designed board game that reminded me of parcheesi. Everything from the video, to the design, to the team were excellent. There was just one small problem: the project kept insisting it would teach something called “computational literacy” to players.

For those that haven’t been paying close attention to the learn to code movement, the logic for teaching everyone to code goes something like this:

This is contentious stuff: teaching every kid to program requires that we trade some other discipline in our children’s education [1]. And this is where the term “computation literacy” was born. Those defending the need to teach young children to program don’t have a solid counter-argument when luminaries like Jeff Atwood say that not everyone should learn to program. The oft-used metaphor about everyone driving a car but not everyone needing to be a mechanic is brought up, and the programming advocates are on their heels.

In the past year, however, programming advocates have stumbled upon a phrase that appears to be unassailable: instead of programming, we need to teach our children “Computational Literacy.” Nobody can convincingly argue with the need to improve our children’s grasp of something amorphous and technical-sounding [2], and so programming advocates rally under the computation literacy flag.

Item #56 Crossed Off – Writing a Book in 1 Week


When I first learned that Tynan wrote Life Nomadic in one week, I was provoked. That book, along with the 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, has seriously inspired me to stir things up. To imagine that the skinny molester of birthgivers wrote that travelers bible in just one week! My first reaction was to be really impressed. When the impression settled, knowing that Tynan is a mere human being, like me, I decided that I could do it too.

I remember I was sitting in a street cafe with all the smells of Ho Chi Minh City coming in on me when it happened. I opened my Bucket List, put the item in the document, and then started writing potential editors for my coming book that would be about how Danes can be travelling the world without money. The topic might not strike you as impressingly original, if you take the pretext into consideration, however, it is what I know and a concept I had spent the last four years of my life to get very good at.

Later the same day I ran into this girl, Puja Paz, nationality refuses to stick to her as her parents are from everywhere and she grew up in at least 300 different countries. We were drinking freshly pressed sugar cane juice mixed with dark rum, served on ice, in a little not-too-trafficky street in Saigon. Conversation soon moved into bucket lists, as I had just learned that I was about to write a book in a week. My Item #8 is Watch Northern Lights. When I said that, she looked at me as if I had just turned into the most uninspiring person she had ever met. Her eyes litteraly lost all the awe build up from sharing dreams and ideals, for what seemed like minutes, but really were hours. “Why don't you just go to live with my grandparents in Tromsø right now?” She said, in Norwegian, I think. My mind started making up all these great excuses for why this adventure should not happen straight away. I was not impressed by any of them and answered “Because I will. Give me your contacts and we'll figure out the details tomorrow.”

Waking up the next day, I found out she was not just making drunken promises. She had already added her grandmother to a facebook chat and laid out the basics of it to her. Her grandmother, had already welcomed me to come for a long visit, without even knowing my face. I booked my ticket and looked forward to replacing the humid heat of Vietnam with the grey cloudyness of Denmark just to travel as far North as you can come without compromising on leaving civilisation. I say civilsation, if you've ever met a Nordmand, you will no that they are nothing like that. I got picked up in Södereise by Elisa (the grandmother of Puja) and proceeded to spend the next week eating all kinds of weird stuff and drinking black coffee. My favourite was whale, no, moose, no, I think that really, smoked salmon is the most delicious food item known to man (it being caught and smoked by Per (the grandfather) did not make it any worse).

I did not see Northern Lights, even though conditions were perfect and I went out looking for it every freezing night I was there. One of my pass time activities when I was resting my writers hands and my head, was watching the Winter Olympics. Tora Berger kicked ass and Synøve Something Norwegian was being a fox. They were so kick ass I had a moment of inspiration, I did miss crossing off one item, crossed off another, and got to put in a third:

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