Why Aren't HTML CSS JavaScript Being Taught in Our Schools?

Grammar and high schools are increasingly out of touch with the need to teach web development programming languages in their classrooms.
Marcia Wendorf
HTML Computer CodePixabay

Want to list an item for sale on eBay? Their listing form provides the opportunity to upload your product description in HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). These two computer languages, along with the JavaScript language, are the backbone of web site creation.


Are you or a close relative getting married soon? It would be nice to create a web page that includes the dates, times and locations of the ceremony and reception, a list of nearby hotels and restaurants for relatives and friends coming in from out of town, maps to the venues, links to public transportation information, numbers for Uber, Lyft and taxi companies, menus for the reception, babysitting options for those with children, and a list of things to do while in the city. In order to create such a page, you're going to need to know some HTML and CSS.

True, there are web site creation tools such as Wix, WeeblyWordPress and Joomla, that allow you to create a web page simply by pasting in content, but to really customize that content, you're going to need some HTML and CSS.

Given the proven need for these skills, you would think that schools around the world would be teaching them, but you would be wrong. In U.S. high schools, the two Advanced Placement courses that are taught, Computer Science A, and Computer Science Principles, teach only the Java programming language, and while their names are similar, Java and JavaScript are two entirely different programming languages.

One outlier in the U.S. is Gering High School in Gering, Nebraska. It teaches HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and its students create web sites for local businesses and organizations. These web sites are state of the art, designed to be responsive so that they display properly on platforms ranging from desktops to smartphones.


In 2014, England updated its national curriculum to expose its children to the basics of coding by the age of five. Beginning at age 11, English children will be instructed in at least two programming languages. With its new digital technologies curriculum, Australia has added coding classes for its children, beginning at age seven.

As teachers of foreign languages have learned, young children's brains are much more adaptable than those of adults, so this allows them to learn a foreign language far easier than it is for an adult. Children are able to learn in an unconscious state of mind, while adults have to consciously learn new information. Also, children aren't as self-conscious as adults, and they aren't afraid to try out new things and make mistakes.

In many ways, learning coding is like learning a foreign language, coding languages even have their own syntax in the same way as a foreign language does. Children are also highly creative, and programming allows them to develop problem-solving skills. Our modern world that has been transformed by technology, and such knowledge is vital, not only to individual students' future career prospects, but also for their home countries' economic competitiveness.

Given that HTML, CSS and JavaScript are not broadly taught in schools, how can students learn them? A number of private companies have jumped into the coding arena with a variety of courses and prices.

Hackensack, New Jersey-based NextGen, which launched in 2016, offers summer and after school coding courses in both the New York area and Los Angeles. Their 2019 Summer Camp program includes a web development course for $2,495.

2017 startup Juni Learning was created by two former Stanford students, Vivian Shen and Ruby Lee. They had the brilliant idea to put together college computer science student tutors with junior and senior high school students. They were inspired by the Chinese web site VIPKid which teaches English to Chinese students. Juni Learning's most popular offering is a 50-minute per week private class that is priced at $250 per month. Juni also offers semi-private classes starting at $160 per month per student.

There are also a number of web sites that offer free computer coding instruction:

  1. Codeacademy - over 45 million people have learned to code through this educational company. It offers courses ranging from HTML, CSS and JavaScript to SQL, Python, Ruby and C++.
  2. Coursera - while it is primarily a for-profit venture, Coursera also provides a number of free, introductory programming courses from universities such as the University of Washington, Stanford, the University of Toronto and Vanderbilt.
  3. edX - was founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012. Today, it includes offerings from 53 schools, including "Introduction to Computer Science" from Harvard University.
  4. Udemy - provides a mix of free and paid-for video lessons that teach Django, APIs, HTML and CSS.
  5. AGupieWare - is a gateway to free courses offered by Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley and Columbia. It offers three introductory classes, seven core classes and five electives.
  6. GitHub - over 31 million developers share their code, manage projects, and build software together on this site. It also provides a Coding Camp that teaches the basics of computer coding.
  7. MIT Open Courseware - includes classes such as "Introduction to Computer Science" and "Programming in Python", along with language-specific courses such as Java, MatLab, C and C++.
  8. Hack.pledge() - is a community of developers that includes such boldface names as Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent. On it, you can perfect your programming skills by learning from some of the leading developers in the world.
  9. Code Avengers - based in New Zealand, Code Avengers provides interactive programming lessons for kids ages five to 14, and for adults. It also offers one- to three-day "code camps" for students up to the age of 17. Code Avengers courses focus on game design, C++, HTML, and Python, and are provided in multiple languages.
  10. Khan Academy - one of the original free online-learning institutions, it provides step-by-step video tutorials covering an introduction to computer science, HTML, CSS and JavaScript.
  11. FreeCodeCamp - provides courses in HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, databases, React.js, and Node.js. Working together, you can build apps that help to solve real-world problems.
  12. Web Fundamentals - a Google project for web developers, it offers free tutorials, resources and the latest HTML5 updates. This site's more advanced offerings require a little more knowledge and experience.
  13. Swift Playgrounds - developed by Apple to be used on an iPad, the app gives kids an opportunity to solve puzzles and learn the same programming language (Swift) that Apple uses to create its own apps.
  14. W3schools - provides tutorials and reference material on HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, JavaScript, jQuery, AngularJS, JSON and AJAX.

For engineering students, not knowing a programming language is no longer an option. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology recently introduced a requirement that all science and engineering undergraduates study programming during either their first or second years.

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