Should everyone code?

Yes. Everyone should be exposed to Computer Science at some point before they make a decision about what path to take for their career. So much of what we do in this day and age involves code, and Software Development is an incredibly large industry with a limited supply of workers. Furthermore, many technological advancements made recently, and advancements that will be coming in the next decades and beyond rely heavily (if not fully) on code. We need more programmers, and our country will be better if we get them.

Some say that actually, nothing at all needs to be changed. They claim that there are those who have some special biological property that allows them to program, and exposing the rest of society to programming is a waste of time. After all, those who have the coding gene seem to find their passion in the end anyway. In the article “Separating Programming Sheep from Non-Programming Goats,” coding ability is represented using two separate bell curves. The author claims that there is literally a great divide between those who can and those who can’t, and that learning is not going to help.

Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe if this coding gene is real, some of those who have it are missing out on an entire career option for lack of information. Maybe there are those who can’t program as well, but if given the chance, would still want the opportunity to develop their skills. Maybe there is no coding gene at all. In fact, the “coding gene” is not even widely agreed upon. In the article “Anyone Can Learn Programming: Teaching > Genetics,” the opposite argument is actually made.

Many other articles, such as “The President Wants Every Student To Learn Computer Science. How Would That Work?” and “Please Don’t Learn To Code,” argue convincingly that in fact not everyone needs to know how to code. I agree with these articles — if everyone spent the time to get a degree in Computer Science, the other fields would be neglected. I only think that everyone be given the chance to understand the field better and make a more informed decision about their career path.

My view on this topic is rooted in personal experience. I had never been exposed to Computer Science throughout my high school experience, and had never even considered the field seriously. I had assumed that it was too hard, or more for the kids who had been involved in it from year 1 of their lives. I came to Notre Dame as a Mechanical Engineer, fairly set in my decision. Luckily, all Engineering tracks here have the same first year, and that year exposed me to MATLAB. By the end of that year I had programmed many different things in MATLAB, including solutions I was really proud of. That summer was a time of discernment for me, as I slowly allowed myself to see how exciting Computer Science was to me, and that I needed to pursue it as a career.