The vast majority of Americans agree that our nation’s education system is seriously flawed, what we can’t agree on is which parts are flawed, and how we should go about fixing them. During a surprise visit to a group of third graders in Manhattan, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that one of the biggest problems with American schools today is that they don’t put nearly enough focus on computer science, and expressed his hope that coding will become a required course in the future. Many people in the tech world share this sentiment, which is why so many companies and organizations have been trying to get more kids into coding in recent years.
Apple’s new Upper East Side store on Madison Avenue in New York City has been many things since it was a bank. Six months ago, the classically styled building, with its vaulted ceiling and pale marble columns, became an Apple Store and today its second floor, which is below ground and still houses the bank’s vault, is a makeshift school and temporary way station for Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook’s arrival on Wednesday is perfectly timed to coincide with an Hour of Code session with 18 students from the city’s PS 57 James Weldon Johnson Leadership Academy, a public school in East Harlem. The hour-long session is part of Computer Science Education Week’s Hour of Code program, which is sponsored by the non-profit organization Code.org. Apple actually kicks a global Hour of code program at all its retail stores on Thursday. No one from the school or even in the Apple Store knew Cook was coming. The students, eight- and nine-year-olds, were focused on the task at hand. Minutes before Cook’s arrival, an Apple instructor named PJ had explained to the students who were seated around two signature wooden Apple tables that they would be learning how to program a game using coding blocks, as opposed to actual code.