Should Kids Be Taught To Write Code?

I reposted an article on my Tech+Learn+Tech site asking if we should be teaching kids to write code. The few comments it received are split on the answer and I imagine that is true for the wider audience of educators.

Some people (non-coders especially) view writing code for web pages or for applications as incredibly dull and boring. On the other side are those that see it as a way to be creative.

Personally, I don't support teaching coding for the purpose of training young coders to some day do things like write iPhone apps. As much as I hated taking math classes in high school, I do recognize that there was some value in the practice because of the logic, precision and critical thinking that it required. I understand the idea of a "beautiful equation" but I never found any beauty in them.

I took COBOL and FORTRAN as an undergrad in that previous century. I had one of the first computers in my classroom in 1979 and I learned BASIC and taught it a bit. Some people thought we would need to learn to write code, but I always believed that other people would write the code (in education) and we would be the users. I can write code for web pages, but I'm falling behind in that area and don't much care to keep up.

But, as the article points out, teaching coding is not a new pedagogical idea. The original article gives 15 reasons why kids need to learn how to code. I picked some of the accompanying quotes to get your brain started. You'll notice that those quoted are clearly on the side of answering Yes to this post's questioning title.

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” — STEVE JOBS, THE LOST INTERVIEW

“If you can program a computer, you can achieve your dreams. A computer doesn’t care about your family background, your gender, just that you know how to code.”
Dick Costolo – CEO, Twitter“I believe technology should give us superpowers. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn to think, analyze, and create with technology.” Hilary Mason – Chief Scientist, Bitly

“Coding can unlock creativity and open doors for an entire generation of American students. We need more coders — not just in the tech industry, but in every industry.”
Mark Pincus – CEO and Founder, Zynga

“Code has become the 4th literacy. Everyone needs to know how our digital world works, not just engineers.”
Mark Surman – Executive Director, The Mozilla Foundation

“To prepare humanity for the next 100 years, we need more of our children to learn computer programming skills, regardless of their future profession. Along with reading and writing, the ability to program is going to define what an educated person is.”
Salman Khan – Founder, Khan Academy“Programming allows you to think about thinking, and while debugging you learn learning.”   Nicholas Negroponte – Founder and Chairman Emeritus of MIT’s Media Lab

“Learning to code makes kids feel empowered, creative, and confident. If we want our young women to retain these traits into adulthood, a great option is to expose them to computer programming in their youth.”
Susan Wojcicki – Senior Vice President, Google


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