“Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think,” said Steve Jobs, two decades ago.
In a 2016 Google and Gallup survey,
84% OF PARENTS
71% OF TEACHERS
66% OF PRINCIPALS
65% OF SUPERINTENDENTS
said that offering computer science is more important than or just as important as offering math, science, history and English.
In 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook underscored the importance of learning to code at the White House Policy Advisory Board: “We believe strongly that it should be a requirement in the United States for every kid to have coding before they graduate from K–12 and become somewhat proficient at it.”
The UAE acknowledged the importance of coding with the launch of the One Million Arab Coders initiative by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
It’s obvious then that mastering code will become as essential as numeracy and literacy to a successful start in life. As hordes of coding schools and programs flood the market, some parents are finding themselves at loss to understand what exactly coding is and why their child needs it.
WHAT DOES CODING MEAN?
Put simply, when you learn to code, you learn to tell a machine what to do in machine language. Code is the string of typed instructions a computer follows to do anything from displaying the word “hello” on a screen, to piloting a driverless car through traffic. Sending a text, taking money from a cashpoint or booking a plane ticket – we can do all of these at a click because someone has written a code that makes it possible.
BENEFITS OF CODING
Now that we have determined that coding is an essential skill of the future, let’s discuss its benefits.
Learning “how to code” can be taken as the buzz phrase for computational thinking – the core concept behind developing code. When a child learns computational thinking, it means he/she has learned to take a problem, understand it and develop solutions for both humans and computers. Even if your child doesn’t want to become a professional computer programmer or software engineer, he/she will benefit from learning to think this way.
When students learn to code they develop structural thinking. They learn how to build something large from lots of other smaller pieces put together. This helps kids to understand not just about computer programs but also helps kids to see the big picture when they are given any task made up of small parts.
Math skills are necessary when learning to code. This doesn’t mean that students need to be a math genius to learn computer programming. It just means that as they learn to code, they will pick up the skills needed to solve math problems along the way.
When you learn a language, you use it to express yourself. The same is true with code. Computer coding empowers children to not only consume digital media and technology, but to create it. Instead of simply playing a video game or using an app, they can make their own video game, website or app.
Perseverance is not an easy trait to teach, especially to a child or student. However, it is an important skill to have in life in general. We don’t want children to just give up when they come across a problem or obstacle, we want them to keep going. Coding teaches children persistence, that in order to solve the problem they have, they must keep going, coming up with different solutions until they have the right one.
WILL EVERY CHILD BECOME A CODER?
Just as years of compulsory English lessons cannot make every child an author, coding lessons in school will not turn every child into a programmer or coder.
The purpose of teaching children to code is to teach them how machine and humans can work together, understand the basics of computational thinking and general tech literacy. It is these skills that will enable them to become an active part of our communities and the future workforce.