To code or not to code, that is the question.
This is becoming a very common question lately in the education world and I thought I would add my 3 cents.
I believe that all students should learn coding. However, not all students will become programers.
I interviewed an expert (my husband) who is a programmer/web developer of 20 years. He said that “you should only become a programmer if it is your passion. You will know if programming is the right career for you if you want to use your free time to program and learn more about programming. Good programmers have a learning mindset; they continually research their craft to keep up with the latest advances and best practices.”
So why should students learn to code if they ultimately may not become programmers? The same question can be asked about math, running, or anything. Just because we teach math to kids doesn’t mean they will all be mathematicians, or encouraging kids to run for their health won’t mean they will all be olympic runners. Because learning to code has serious benefits beyond just getting a job as a programmer.
I will list a few for ya:
Learning to code helps students with:
- problem solving
- algorithmic thinking
I do not think people realize that writing code is more about problem solving and creativity. Writing code is like literary writing; the more you practice and improve the more creative and capable you become.
Since the Hour of Code week that launched last December, we have been exploring coding programs with our kids and it has been fantastic. We started with Scratch and are still using it today. In fact, my son made his sister a birthday card last month in Scratch. It was so cool and funny! Press play to see it and type yes when prompted with the question.
Try out this very quick, simple program to help the angry bird get the piggy in the maze by moving a few blocks of code around and you will see how it helps you systematically think about how to solve the problem.
Another benefit to programming is it helps you build algorithmic thinking. A big part of computer programming is thinking in an if else or if then statements. For example, cooking.
(have all the tools) AND (have all the ingredients)
do not start cooking
get all the tools
get all ingredients
We use algorithms everyday in our lives. Problem solving techniques are algorithms, just like we saw with cooking.
I even took a swing at coding
Last year I became inspired to learn programming myself and now currently teach a Computer Science class to kids to help them just learn the basics of computers, how they work and how they can use them to benefit their lives, while weaving in coding concepts. The kids love the class and they help each other and collaborate on many ideas. Its really something to watch.
We need to teach to our kids in the year we live in if we want them to be better equipped. Wishing for how it used to be or how you want it to be is a losing game. It is the year 2014. When we utilize the wonderful tools/programs we have today we give our kids the upper hand. Regardless if they become programmers, learning some coding is really beneficial to our kids.