Kids, schools and coding: the challenge of our times
A fantastic article in Wired, “Forget foreign languages and music. Teach our kids to code”, clearly explains why programming should be incorporated into the school curriculum from kindergarten: not so our children can be programmers when they grow up, but because they are going to spend their lives surrounded by programmable objects.
Programming is easy to teach to children from an early age, while they are learning to read with increasingly cheaper and simpler tools; it also aids learning in other areas. Learning from an early age how a computer works and how we can communicate with it allows children to understand much more about their environment, as well as preparing them to bring value to the society they are growing up in. Initiatives such as England’s decision to include Computer Sciences in its Baccalaureate reflects a very clear philosophy that the success of which will be measured in the successfulness of other nations that adapt in this way.
There are already a large number of initiatives to teach children about programing. All that is needed, as a society, is for us to demand that our children’s schools teach this subject. We must demand teachers with the right training to put these kind of initiatives into action, rather than simply allowing our children to sit in front of a machine without having first developed the methodology required to turn programming into something they will enjoy, that meets certain curricular objectives, and that can be seriously evaluated as other subjects.
This means giving programming the same level of importance as other curricular content, and not just another colorful or “modern” initiative. As technology advances, we might reach the point where languages could end up being less important than knowing how to program, and so understand your environment.
Programming teaches thinking, it allows us to develop high-value cognitive skills, and is most efficiently done from a very early age. In all honesty, it is the real challenge that our education systems face: not in terms of some five-year plan, not as something that is going to happen in the near future, but starting tomorrow, as a strategic objective at every level, and in recognition of its importance for the future of our children and for our development as a society.