Code Girls: Top Secret American Brainpower During World War II

97803163525501Today we often hear that children must learn how to code as the only way to be prepared for the technical challenges they will encounter as adults. I used to teach coding to children at my school, but after reading Code Girls, I am reminded that we should not lose sight of the importance of a broad education that emphasizes languages, math, science, music, and all the other subjects that make up the liberal arts. This type of education serves people well, because it ensures that students possess thinking skills and develop the wherewithal to learn, when necessary, new types of technical skills, such as coding and programming.

in Code Girls author Liza Mundy tells the story of how young women, many of whom were academically prepared in the liberal arts to become teachers, came to work for the Army and Navy in Washington, D.C. during World War II. They mastered extraordinary technical skills, learning how to decipher complicated and perplexing coded wartime communications.

The book describes how thousands of these young women — recruited with no idea of what they would be doing — learned how figure out cyphers and break codes, thereby ensuring that the United States military knew what its enemies were planning or doing. The women poured over intercepted messages from enemy countries and by breaking open these messages helped to save lives, sink ships, down airplanes, and fool enemies. Their work helped to change the course for the United States in World War II.   Continue reading