Coding · Technology

Should we teach kids to code?

Alessandro Grande Entrepreneur

November 5th, 2014

I came across this article" Let's Not Teach Our Kids To Code!" today, and I personally think teaching kids to code helps them to better understand how computers work. It allows them to connect with technology from an early stage. I believe in the near future kids who can not code will simply fall behind. Curious to hear what others think.

Douglas Tarr Entrepreneur and Software Architect

November 5th, 2014

The real value of teaching coding is to give kids control over what they create and consume.

Coding is really about critical thinking and problem solving, there's nothing new in that.

I've started a business in the bay area teaching coding, (my staff has taught hundreds of kids in real life) and the reason I'm doing it is to get kids to see what's possible and take control of their own lives and destinies.  

You can see it in their eyes - once they realize that they can make whatever they want, and not just have to use someone else's game, app, or story, it really opens a door and they light up.

Coding (like many other forms of critical thinking) encourages you to stop and see how things actually work.  Coding isn't the only way that this happens - any kind of making will do this.  Some kids simply aren't tech kids and they shouldn't be forced to do this.  But, if a kid loves video games like Minecraft, or has artistic tendencies, learning coding can be a great creative outlet.

Tech like Scratch, Arduino and 3D printing have made coding and making a lot more accessible than even a few years ago.

It's not like this is new - I grew up in 80s with a Commodore 64 and learned to code in BASIC and pascal as a kid.  

The difference between now (and the past) is that computers are completely ubiquitous, and people are being bombarded with messages and content in all directions.  Coding is a way to flip that on it's head - kids are create instead of consuming (video games, social media, movies, etc)

PS - Would love to connect with other folks who are involved in coding education (software, hardware, school based)!

Stephan Thieringer Chief Radical | Business Thinker | Executive Coach | Adjunct Faculty

November 6th, 2014

Tom,

I think a lot of your points are well taken.  But to your example:  Every child should have the privilege of experiencing some musical education in school..agreed?  That may in fact not be the clarinet but another instrument or for that matter their own beautiful voice when singing. Music has proven to have deep and long lasting positive effects on young minds.

Education as we look for common denominators is and should be a holistic approach and a variety of stimuli we give children in form of guidance, challenge and self discovery.  In that aspect only I am advocating of the one amongst very forms of critical thinking and process based thinking children can learn from coding. And learning to code does not not mean drilling children in a classroom setting - it simply means educating about the beauty of process, logical semantics and the opportunity that it can open up.  What the child takes from that or does with it should be up to the child, but again it creates one aspect of a well rounded human being.  And especially the discussion in the US K-12 education system around that topic is rather very sad. 

Rob G

November 5th, 2014

I think we should teach our kids the whole process from ideation to product design to UX to coding to testing. Some will gravitate to the more artistic side of the world and others to the more engineering side.  We are all wired differently and we should expose kids to the spectrum of possibilities and let them gravitate as they choose.  I don't have an artistic bone in my body, but problem solving came pretty naturally.  i had no interest in art or drama classes, but i enjoy art and admire artists.  We don't teach kids history because we have high demand for historians.  We don't teach kids music because there is high demand for musicians.  we teach kids these subjects to expose them to the possibilities and to produce well-rounded adults with a broad range of experiences, often times to the detriment of preparing them for the realities of todays job market, but that's a debate for another time.  With the limited educational $$ and resources we have i would prefer to see more STEM options.   

Depending on what you are building the project can be built by 1 or hundreds. If you are building a chicken coop for the back yard - 1.  If you are building an office towner - many.  Designers design, architects architect, engineers engineer and builders build. Some specialize even further (foundations, framing, interiors, trim, etc.).  Knowing at least something about all the 'trades' and how they interface makes one more efficient and valuable to the overall process.  The best architects and engineers i know are those that have experience actually building stuff, but that doesn't mean they are an expert in all aspects of creating a building.  

@ Douglas B, our current company is closely tied to students and schools.  Helping to spark interest in kids for STEM is a personal passion. I'll ping you off line to discuss.

Tom Zimberoff

November 6th, 2014

There are many ways to teach children about how to think critically. Teaching them to code may, or may not, be one of them. I'm not aware of anyone who has done a critical analysis of that issue. In other words, the assertion itself hasn't been critically thought through. For instance, it's easy for me to say, being a musician as well as someone who has learned to code, that teaching every child how to play the clarinet will teach them how to think. It will. But it is absurd to believe that every child should learn to play the clarinet.

It is extraordinarily narcissistic of this community to believe that coding should be an educational common denominator. I don't have to be a mechanic to drive my car. I don't have to code to either use a computer or perform any imaginable creative or cognitive task.

Sandy Fischler Experiential Marketing Director | Event Producer | Event Management | Entrepreneur

November 6th, 2014

I tend to agree with others that there's a difference between "teaching kids to code" as curriculum and "exposing them to code" as a cultural development strategy. 

The more options you expose people to when they are young, the more doors you open for them. Personally, if we are going to demand the kids walk out of school with critical life skill, there are more important things than code on that list (such as basic financial management, people skills, critical thinking skills...) 

The real value of exposure to code is to catch those kids early who have an affinity for it, the same we our educators look for academically adaptive students to move into fast lanes and advanced placement classes.  

Stephan Thieringer Chief Radical | Business Thinker | Executive Coach | Adjunct Faculty

November 7th, 2014

Tom,

I wish when contributing fora the contributions would be less confrontational and frankly less condescending.  Again the emphasis is not on teaching every child to code and the qualification of aptitude testing in a K-8 level is a nice thing but the principle of self discovery by offering a variety of material and one of them coding will thus allow kids to be "discovered" for that matter discover themselves.  So again there is a basic principle that is of great value and developmental support for a child in their developmental phase ages 5-8 and creates the principles of computational thinking as one form of logic approach in the human mind.  And just to amuse you and the rest of the group here regards music from a UK project:

Early research into new education practices that fuse computing with music-making shows they create "enquiry-rich" conditions that empower children to take risks, and allow teachers to build innovative cross-subject collaborations. New 'learning pathways' could help free future musicians from 'locked-in' hardware and fuel creative economy.


Cheers and that is where I rest my case!

Tom Zimberoff

November 6th, 2014

Yes, "coding" is a loaded word. Yes it IS used in the context of building software. Otherwise, we'd be talking about the Maker Movement or linguistics or music or mathematics or baseball or . . . 

Nathanael PSM Developer at Thinktiv

November 7th, 2014

This question is a waste of bandwidth. Obvious answer, 'yes'.

Shawn Burke CTO, Buddy Platform

November 6th, 2014

 "Code" is becoming a loaded word.  

Teaching kids to code isn't about building software.  Coding is about automation - it's about understanding that there are things that can do work for you, things you would otherwise spend a lot of time doing.  This is the key skill of our age - how can I make something do work for me that would either take a long time or be impossible.

Whether that's Excel or Minecraft of IFTT or the home security system, it doesn't matter.  The point is that people who understand this concept have an opportunity to be vastly more productive than those who don't.

Ryan Rigterink Midwest Manager at Hematogenix Laboratory

November 7th, 2014

I will just speak towards my own kids.  I want them to be exposed to the whole technological creative process from ideation, design, UX, coding, testing, etc.  I also want them to be exposed to the arts, languages, sports, and sciences.  The goal is for them to discover what they enjoy and have a passion towards.  And to see or gain a glimpse of what they can contribute toward or be a part of.  Discipline is important and excellence can be mandated, but discipline is a better follower of love and excellence follows passion with much less resistance.  Passion must be discovered and then cultivated regardless of the skill or industry.  For youth today skills toward coding will certainly open doors of opportunity for them if acquired.