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Coding For All?

10 Jan

ImageThere is a positive mania for all things coding right now, and it begs the question, should we be teaching everyone to code? Part of me believes that everyone should have some exposure to some kind of programming. I believe it helps develop the rational mind in some vague way, in the same way that the study of Latin was said to be good for one! It is also an essential twenty first century skill. People should not be at the mercy of technology, and to gain some ability to control the world around us, we need to be able to hack our machines a little.

I have always taught a little bit of coding in my computer skills classes, whether a bit of Scratch, or some HTML or JavaScript. Recently I have been using ActionScript with Flash as well.

Another part of me, though, recognises that coding is not for everyone, and ramming it down everyone’s throats might be counter-productive. I would love to see some coding as part of the core curriculum, and I do believe everyone should have an introductory look at it, and be encouraged to take it up, but I don’t think it should be compulsory.

I also believe that coding should be embedded in the curriculum. It should be seen as part of any act of critical thinking. There should be some coding in History, some in Maths, in Geography and Art. Students should be encouraged to develop apps or games that help them learn in all their subject disciplines. I believe all kids are capable of that, and that increasingly coding and learning are the same thing. Learning in a Digital Age is wrapped up with one’s ability to hack solutions. Creating a website is a deeper learning experience than merely viewing one. Creating a game is more packed with learning than merely playing one.

Saying all kids should be coding is perhaps a step too far, but we should be encouraging everyone to give it a go! MIT App Inventor looks like a great site to encourage students to develop apps for any subject discipline – a challenge I will certainly be setting my students this year!

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2 responses to “Coding For All?

  1. Laura

    January 23, 2014 at 5:04 am

    I agree that coding is certainly not for everyone, but we could say the same about other subjects we force students to take. The value in introducing coding to all students is that it gives them the chance to discover it, to possibly find pleasure in it, plus the power to go on and work with it on their own. Who knows what they might invent! (I am not a coder, but thanks to the Hour of Code and all the online tutorials, I am now hosting a Coding Club for 7/8th graders after school. I love those free resources!)

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    • Dorian Love

      January 24, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Thanks, Laura. I agree with you that coding is important. We need producers not consumers of digital artefacts! I also think it does help develop thinking skills!

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