Do Your Kids Need to Learn to Code? Yes! But Not for the Reasons You Think
Coding is having its 15 minutes of fame. Journalists regularly quote facts about the shortage of computer programmers in the U.S., entrepreneurs fund coding camps for low opportunity kids and even the President has given learning to code a thumbs up.
For many parents and teachers this new focus on learning to code feels like an overhyped fad that will be replaced any day now by “learning particle physics” or “learning solar energy storage.” And does anyone really believe that turning a whole generation of kids into programmers would be a good outcome for society? What about artists, doctors, musicians and mechanics? What about chefs, writers, electricians and plumbers? Why exactly do kids need to learn to code?
Why is coding so darn important!?
The answer starts with the fact that, love it or hate it, we live in an increasingly digital world. Education is no longer about learning facts. Facts are at our fingertips at all times. Learning is now about quickly sourcing reliable information, creative problem solving, logical thinking, self-management and mental flexibility. The jobs of tomorrow demand this and I’m obsessed with preparing my three kids, ages 6, 8 and 13, for “real life.”
So, when my daughter Naomi begged to take a LEGO robotics class at her elementary school two years ago I said yes because it sounded like a door to the future. She loved it and asked me to come check it out. I was surprised to find that in a class of 25 kids she was the only girl and the youngest student by two years. That week I researched options for teaching young kids about computer science and was even more surprised to find there were very few resources for young kids and no real concept of an “ABCs” of computer science.
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