Should Kids Learn to Code?

Should Kids Learn to Code?

 

Should students have mandatory coding lessons? A question that is constantly being asked by teachers, politicians, parents, and students alike. But is coding as useful as we’re making it out to be? Coding is made out to be the saviour of our generation – if you can’t code, how do you expect to find a job in the future? But is coding really the solution to finding a job in the future? First, I will discuss the positives of coding. It’s becoming the new language of the world – more and more jobs such as zoology are becoming information fields and coding is what ties people from around the world together. It is also thought that coding improves kids computational thinking – in simpler terms, being able to take a big problem and break it down into smaller, more manageable problems. This is a way of thinking that isn’t only for coding, any job you apply for will want someone that has good computational thinking. But is making children code from a young age really the way to achieve better computational thinking? The answer to that is debatable but I would lean towards saying no. Sure, coding seems like an amazing way to make the young brain work and further develop, but so far there has been no proper evidence that coding is improving problem solving skills. If someone manages to show a correlation between 5 year olds coding and their problem solving skills, I would definitely reconsider my opinion, but as of now I believe coding is not necessarily the best way to improve problem solving skills; reading problem solving stories (such as mysteries), making problem solving fun (my mom used m&m’s to teach me about fractions and multiplying and I would 10/10 recommend it – it makes visualising problems so much easier!), letting your kids play and giving them space – don’t be a helicopter parent!, or one of my favourites: solving riddles. I didn’t learn how to code when I was in primary school yet still have good problem solving skills – should we really be forcing kids to sit in front of screens rather than letting them go outside and explore on their own?

kids playing scratch.jpgOk, maybe forcing young kids to code isn’t the best, but aren’t most of our future careers going to be in computer engineering anyways? Well, some stats suggest that 71% of future STEM careers will be in computer engineering, so shouldn’t we be encouraging our kids to code their hearts out? Not so fast! First off – computer science majors are topping the unemployment charts due to lack of jobs. Since most of the technology industries are moving their lower class jobs (such as coding) offshore, many graduates fresh out of Uni can’t find any job that accepts a bachelor’s in computer science. Maybe you shouldn’t study computer science at Uni but what about becoming a STEM grad? Think again! The US has more STEM grads than STEM jobs available (if you don’t live in the US I guess this doesn’t concern you, but still something to consider when applying for Uni.) So is coding really the answer to all our problems? Because it really doesn’t look like it.

To conclude, should kids be forced to code from a young age? Fun coding games like scratch or lightbot should definitely not be excluded from school curriculums but should not be take precedence over reading, fun mystery solving activities, and playful maths problems. There’s definitely a skills shortage somewhere in the computer science industry, but it doesn’t appear to be coding – so if you’re not good at it, don’t sweat it! 🙂

 

References

Buckingham, D. (2015, July 13). Why kids should not be taught to code [Blog post]. Retrieved from David Buckingham website: https://davidbuckingham.net/2015/07/13/why-children-should-not-be-taught-to-code/

Crow, D. (2014, February 7). Why every child should learn to code. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/07/year-of-code-dan-crow-songkick

Strauss, V. (2016, January 30). All students should learn to code. Right? Not so fast. Retrieved January 27, 2018, from Washington Post website: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/29/all-students-should-learn-to-code-right-not-so-fast/?utm_term=.46bf7ba0b39f

10 ways to teach your kids to problem solve [Blog post]. (n.d.). Retrieved from allprodad website:

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