I just saw this quote in People magazine:
“Learn to code. It’s a skill that everyone should learn at some point-but sadly I don’t know how to do it.” Katie Couric
Why did she say this? She expresses regret yet not knowing how to code hasn’t seemed to hinder her career at all. So why has she added her voice to the crowd pushing our kids to learn coding?
This idea is bigger than you think.
There is a push by many school districts to teach kids how to code. There is also a national organization dedicated to teaching this to children. Also, Apple offers free beginning classes in coding every December in their stores during the Week of Code. Toys on the shelves and apps are promising to teach coding.
But how useful would learning coding really be?
Is it really a skill that kids need to learn “for the future?” Let me first ask you a couple of questions. How did that Spanish or French class work out for You or your parents? How did that Latin class work out for your Grandparents?
We could take it a step further.
How much do your Algebra or Geometry classes come in handy?
I think forcing kids to learn coding is wrong.
Teaching kids to code feels just like those old language classes, something a few will go on to use, but the majority will not. Somehow K-12 academia got it into their heads that because technology will be increasingly prevalent in their lives, learning to code will be a necessity to get by.
Coding is being preached as a way to enter the high tech world in the future, that because tech workers are in high demand now, it will be a great career path. Or at the very least, it will help them excel at whatever they decide to make a living at.
This is just not true.
I’m not saying that children shouldn’t be introduced to coding.
It’s a skill that can open many doors, and being given information about it or having them take a single coding session could spark a kid’s interest to learn more.
But it’s no different than a kid wanting to learn an instrument. Not every child wants to, or even should, but the resources are there in case they decide it’s something they would enjoy.
So let’s not force coding down the throat of the entire current generation of youngsters.
If we do, there will be a generation of adults who remember a handful of commands, much like I remember only a handful of Spanish phrases (Como esta? Es Susana en la cocina?).
Besides, there are more important skills a child should learn when young.
How about typing? I was fortunate to take a typing class in high school, Granted I only took the class because there were mostly girls enrolled in it, but who knew it was a skill I would truly need? it’s a skill I’m using right now to write this article. I didn’t realize with the rise of computers that it would become an extremely useful thing to know.
While I’m at it, why not teach kids money skills?
Why not teach them how to balance a checkbook? Or about how credit cards work? Or about compound interest? Those are things that would help in the real world of their future, a lot more than coding ever will.
If your kid shows an interest in coding, then great, encourage it!
But don’t be surprised if that interest cools after awhile, especially when a child discovers how difficult it can be. If they don’t learn to code, they will still get by just fine. Just like you.
Want a chuckle and maybe something to think about a couple of times a week? Then click here.