A while ago, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg appeared in a video about coding via the group Code.org (you can watch the video here). It’s a well put together video on the benefits of coding for kids. It has Chris Bosh, Will.i.am in it to name a few celebrities and it does a nice job of making coding seem as if anyone could do it.
Coding is a hot educational topic because the more technology we consume the more jobs it creates, the more developers/programmers we need and these jobs pay well.
When I was in high school, I coded. Our high school used Turbo Pascale (I just dated myself) and I found it tough. I didn’t understand what was going on and why because I don’t think like a coder. I married a software programmer and I know how they think. My hubby is a very logical and linear thinker – I am not. I believe that you either get coding or you don’t. Even today when I’m doing basic HTML I struggle with it. My brain isn’t hard wired to code.
Given my childhood experience, how do I feel about coding? Did it benefit me? I don’t believe it did but mainly because technology and computers weren’t ingrained into my life back then. I didn’t own a smart phone and our home computer was some old Apple relic.
But since that time, the economy has changed and who knows what it will be like when my kids graduate. So now that I’m a parent, do I think coding should be taught in schools to better prepare out kids for the jobs of tomorrow? Yes, and here’s why:
1. Coding teaches problem solving and critical thinking. I didn’t truly learn these skills until my post secondary education days. It would have made a difference in my life, if I had learned and honed those skills earlier on.
2. It helps develop the foundations of team work and collaboration. If you can’t figure out how to code something or the program isn’t working you talk to someone about it and solve the problem together. It’s tough to code in isolation.
3. It helps to break down barriers. If more people learn how to code then it doesn’t matter who you are or where you have come from because everyone is on the same playing field.
That said, before kids can code they need to be able to read, write and do math at a certain level. Kids need to understand the basics. My worry is that we’ll sacrifice the basics for coding and that shouldn’t be the case. If your child is interested in coding there are two programs which teach kids how to code in ways that kids understand – Scratch and Tynker. Scratch has been around for a bit and Tynker just came out.
And don’t despair if your child doesn’t understand how to code, it’s not a big deal. He or she has other skills they can draw upon. I knew I wasn’t going to be an expert coder and moved on to something else. So while coding is a good skill to know, it’s not the end all be all.
(Editor’s Note: This blog is no longer active as of June 2017. All links have been removed)