Sunday, 30 November 2014

Should we add coding to the primary education curriculum?

'Eee Keyboard-PC' by Yoshi5000
under a CC license
Yes, in my humble opinion, we should!

You may think that I have simply been a bit too influenced by the move in Finland to teach typing instead of handwriting in schools. No. In fact, although I see some advantages in introducing courses for typing instead of cursive writing, I wouldn't have gone nearly as far. After all, we still need to be able to communicate, even when electricity is not available.

With coding, however, things are different. As others have explained, coding is more of a way of thinking rather that an exercise for those that have computers. Coding, regardless of the programming language used, requires skills for describing and understanding a problem, possibly breaking it up to smaller, manageable chunks and devising a solution employing logic.

Coding can be taught almost hand-in-hand with mathematics (especially numerical analysis) and I suspect that would help the skills of kids in both fields. I wouldn't need too much time of teaching, either. Most probably, having an hour or two per week would be enough to motivate kids to engage further on the topic.

If the curriculum would also include user interface design, then coding would also blend elements of fine art, psychology, etc.

There would also be additional benefits for pupils, such as learning to collaborate across teams towards solving a particular problem, developing self-confidence in problem-solving, finding additional routes of creativity, seeking for/creating innovation in software, getting better at using computers and software, etc.

As an added bonus, coding does not require expensive infrastructures. It can be done on basic hardware (including tablets, old PCs, etc.) using free software and, today, an increasing number of households own a computer or a tablet. There is also a lot of help for coders available online, including websites with coding courses, communities of programmers, etc. Coding classes could even run without access to computers but I admit that this would rather boring for the kids.

So, yes. Let's give coding a try in schools and, who knows, maybe the coming generations will feature a higher number of brilliant coders or, at least, be better better at using logic against challenges.

The video below features Thomas Suarez (not the typical 12-year-old) giving a TEDx talk:

No comments: