Let’s Talk About Kids and Programming
If education shifted the focus from learning computing language to the digital building process itself, a world of creativity could be unleashed
I am a proud geek and father of three young children. I taught myself to code Basic at the age of 12 on my father’s Commodore 64, and I actively encourage my children to be enthused by the notion of building with digital tools. But I don’t necessarily agree with the notion that every child must learn how to code.
Yes, technology is the fastest growing sector of the UK economy with over a quarter of all new jobs in London coming from the technology sector. And yes, what parent would not want their child to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Ma.
To thrive in what some have called the second machine age, we, as parents, should ensure that our children develop the right skills. Just as we want them to express themselves clearly through writing, or contextualise the world through geography and develop numeracy through mathematics, we need to give the understanding of tools to grasp the accelerating nature of technology.
Last year, the UK government took a bold step by adding coding into the core school curriculum. From this school year onwards your children will be exposed to Boolean logic and bring home words like Ruby and Objective C. The challenge is that few parents (and not all teachers) really understand what coding is all about.
First, let’s stop calling it coding.
Coding refers to the use of a specific computing language to string together instructions for a computing device to execute. Instead, let’s talk about programming: the process and concepts of logic which – when implemented via code – bring digital services to life.