Why should your kid code?

by Eric Bowman - 9 Jun 2016

Learning how to use technology and learning how it works are two very different, yet critical, educational issues.

It’s safe to say that today’s kids are using the latest smartphones, tablets, and laptops with little to no instructions. The need to teach our children how to use the latest tech toy is no longer necessary – the ubiquity and effect of these devices on our daily lives means they figure it out on their own.

The education systems of a handful of countries have included coding as core curriculum in primary schools, which underlines the fact that the how behind technology remains a key driver of innovation and global literacy.

Every computer used to come with a built-in programming language, however today’s devices don’t possess the same features: iPads don’t even have a reasonable keyboard. The trend in technology is pushing people away from the code, when we need to be pulling them closer instead.

As today’s children will play a major part in how technology is built in the future, why not supply them with the skills they’ll need to influence, innovate, and engage with tech?

Fluency in technology is an invaluable skill

Being able to merely use your computer isn’t going to cut it in 10 years’ time. Our kids are born in an age where the Internet has always existed, and where software supports almost every industry you can think of. The workforce of the future will be expected to be technologically fluent, which means more than operating devices. This has often been referred to as learning “21st century skills”.

It’s all about layers: Creativity, critical thinking, problem solving

What better way is there to bring out our children’s creativity in a technology-heavy world? With coding under their belt, they’ll be able to build tangible systems that incorporate critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. These aren’t just computer science or software engineering lessons, but life lessons: Looking at big-picture-problems and breaking them down into manageable tasks, making logical connections, and analysing and interpreting data.

Being effective in the presence of uncertainty is also a meaningful lesson, with trends in millennialism showing us that workers of the future demand clear purpose to properly engage deeply in the problems modern enterprises face. However, when we talk about layers, we’re also referring to the layers of abstraction that mask the complexity beneath it all: Solving technical problems at scale and reducing complexity might sound like grown-up issues, but delving into these topics early on shows that it’s more than just programming, it’s developing.

Acquiring coding skills early opens up options in midlife

Your child’s chosen profession almost certainly won’t be the one they stick with for life, nor should it have to be. Learning how to code young will open up more options to kids later in their careers, and eases the struggle of coding bootcamps in midlife. While programming is a never-ending journey of acquiring knowledge, laying the groundwork will be crucial going forward.

Connected devices will shape the future

From fridges that know when you need to buy milk, to apps that give you an easy-to-read dashboard of your health and fitness data, connected devices are paving the way to a continually connected world. Kids should be outfitted with the know-how to navigate the emerging Internet of Things landscape, even if we’re still figuring out which devices would actually be improved by these connections.

Coding skills will soon be assumed knowledge throughout various industries for kids in the future, but just one part of a larger range of skills that a well-rounded human ought to have. It’s no surprise that initiatives in the EU, US, and Australia to make coding part of the curriculum have been mostly successful in their implementation. Diverse early-learning is the key to unlocking future potential and creativity.

The world needs more well-rounded people who can code. It also needs to up the ante when it comes to educating its youth to keep up with technological innovation and demand.

To take part in the societies of tomorrow, kids should learn to code today.

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