What are the compelling arguments both for and against computer coding in schools?
My current contract job for the College of William and Mary is programming, therefore, you can guess that I am pro-coding in schools. I do believe that coding preps your brain for more complex/abstract problems that we commonly see in higher math levels. I often hear Computer Science majors state that their first programming languages were Pascal or Cobol. Even though we do not use these languages anymore, the first generation programming languages helped them understand the coding processes. These people are able to easily read other languages and excel in most math problems. Another reason I am so pro coding in schools.
Something unique about me, I am dyslexic (which my two daughters have as well). Learning to code when you consistently scramble letters and numbers was very challenging for me. I knew that programming was going to be hard and I purchased the textbooks one semester early in some of my classes so I would have more time to grasp the concepts. Having to know when to use a comma, semi-colon, and the greater than/ less than signs are very tedious tasks for me. I was able to develop a style which I use every time I code. I now can code in more than five different languages.
Today we have tools to create gui (user interfaces) that are very easy to use. You can just drop and drag components to an application and then run whatever program you just built. I love sites like codeacademy.com that break up programming concepts into small lessons. The theory behind the Hour of Code, for anyone to learn code, not just Computer Science majors. Mine Craft is one of my boys favorite games, Sims for my girls, these are all teaching them to program without them even knowing. Coding is a way of tinkering for growth mindsets. Students are able to create something then through trail and error are able to see their programs. Writing code can create help with children’s self esteem and give them a sense of accomplishment after writing code and seeing their programs work.
Furthermore, software is the fastest growing industry today. According to Boston.com, 30 fastest growing jobs in 2016 have 5 IT jobs, other jobs listed on the site are also technical as well:
- Computer software and systems software engineers
- Database administrators
- Computer systems analysts
- Computer applications software engineers
- Network systems and data communications analyst
Programming is one of the required skills in the Information Technology field. Understanding how software works and how to use it to its full capabilities is just one key to be successful in today’s tech industry. Why not teach our students skills that they can use in the real world to obtain good jobs?
Learn to code interactively, for free. N.D. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from https://www.codecademy.com/
Join the largest learning event in history, Dec 7-13, 2015. N.D. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from https://hourofcode.com/us
Minecraft Education Edition. N.D. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from Minecraft.edu
Staff (2013, Dec 23). In the year 2016: The 30 fastest –growing jobs. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from https://www.boston.com/jobs/untagged/2013/12/23/in-the-year-2016-the-30-fastest-growing-jobs