Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kids and coding. Yep, it can make a difference.

So let's talk about kids and coding. Just recently Ali Partovi said learning to code is imperative, believing computer science should satisfy a science requirement rather than a science elective. Why does he think it's imperative? "I can’t think of any other science that would better prepare you for life in the 21st century.” Interesting, but not a great justification.

The New York Times published an article titled "Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding." If you're a coder, you may be scratching your head about this, but think big manipulatives for coding.
The lessons do not involve traditional computer language. Rather, they use simple word commands — like “move forward” or “turn right” — that children can click on and move around to, say, direct an Angry Bird to capture a pig.
And some kids are having fun creating a program that directs the computer to do something.

What is the value of learning how to code? There are many good reasons for kids to learn how to code, but the main reasons that come to my mind are these. First, it's problem solving. Second, it requires they use logic. The students have to think multiple ways to solve the problem. Sometimes the solution is linear; sometimes the solution might require them to ask the computer to execute moves that seem counterintuitive. Third, it's creative. They are writing code and creating a program. When the thing runs cleanly, kids can say, "I made that. I made that program so the computer will do that."

But, as is the case with just about anything, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Not every kid is going to be good at coding and not every kid is going to want to try coding. I can see it being integrated in a variety of ways in elementary school. I can see it being a science requirement option though I don't know why it should be limited to science. In fact, if coding is that important and because it helps students with problem-solving, logic, and creativity, I'd make sure that students take at least one coding course in high school, but on an equal par with English, math, science, etc. That's assuming, of course, we continue to think about a middle and high school education as we have done traditionally. But that's a different topic for a different post.

In the mean time, if a coding class is an option, just say "yes."

No comments:

Post a Comment