In the 1990s, personal computer use expanded exponentially. With this came a new wave of children we called digital natives — children who were born and brought up during the age of digital technology. The education system, however, ‘ignored’ the growth of technology, and continued teaching the same old things, until recently.
The debate over whether children should be taught to code in school has been going on for quite a while. One side says that coding is the new literacy, and everyone should know how to. The other, more deprecatory side, rejects this claim.
First of all, though the idea that coding will be beneficial to children is debatable, I do not envisage it ever being at the same level as indispensable skills like reading or writing. Coding is not a skill needed by everyone. An actuary may benefit from knowing how to code, but a nurse wouldn’t. Coding is beneficial ONLY if it solves a problem. People should not learn how to code just because. Jeff Atwood said about this argument in an article of his:
It assumes that coding is the goal. Software developers tend to be software addicts who think their job is to write code. But it’s not. Their job is to solve problems.
Some people say coding could make our kids get better at problem-solving. But so could chess. And mathematics. Many other things can teach problem-solving. My point is that there are many other skills that would be beneficial to our kids. Coding is a practical subject, and if schools started teaching it, they would probably take away all the ‘ practicalness’ from it and teach it like any other subject.
We could instead introduce our kids to code, and get them to know how it looks like. Then it would be their choice to continue, either in a club or in their own time on platforms such as Codecademy and SoloLearn. This would allow them to learn to code their own way. This reminds me of a famous quote by Margaret Mead:
Children must be taught how to think, not what to think
In this context, school would tell our kids what to code, and would not allow them to come up with their own ideas and do what coding is all about — solving problems.
I’m not against children learning to code. I am against schools teaching and examining it.
What is your opinion? Should children be taught to code in school? Respond with your opinions below.
We should be teaching our kids how to code. Or should we? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.