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Why All Our Children Should Learn to Code

May 19, 2015

How often do we look at our children and say to ourselves and those around us, “These are the leaders of tomorrow.” We often work hard to provide them the best education we can afford to secure their future. There is however, one thing that is almost non-existent or ineffectively taught in their Information Technology (or Computer) education today; and that is the knowledge of how technology works.

Our world today can be defined not just as global but as a technologically engineered, that is, dominated by information and technology. Our daily lives ranging from communication, mobility, shelter, health to feeding is influenced by the impact of technology. Hence, the beauty of technology is not in its complexity but in its daily use by the average person. “The future,” Van Jones told TIME Magazine, “is being written in code.” Van Jones is a civil rights advocate and the founder of Yes We Code, an ambitious initiative of his 'Rebuild the Dream' organisation aimed at preparing 100,000 low-income children for careers in writing computer code. There is a growing consensus that the way children in schools are taught Information Technology is in need of a radical overhaul.

Why is it so vital that we teach our children to code?

We are already living in a world dominated by software. Your telephone calls go over software-controlled networks; your television is delivered over the internet; people don’t buy maps anymore, they use the web; we shop online...The world of the next generation will be experienced more online. Software is becoming a critical layer on all our lives. It is the language of our world. In the future, not understanding the language of computers will be as challenging as being illiterate or innumerate are today.

While children have multiple opportunities to learn how to use technology, they rarely understand the fundamental principles that make it work. A growing realization among educators that this gap needs to be filled is prompting a new revolution that is based on the belief that teaching children how to program will give them a skill for life.

Christian Hernandez, the co-founder of the White Star Capital and former director, EMEA, Facebook once said – “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 contextualize the world through geography and develop numeracy through mathematics, we need to give the understanding of tools to grasp the accelerating nature of technology.”

Whether or not your child grows up to be the next Bill Gate, programming is a highly useful skill for him or her to learn. It teaches vital problem-solving, creativity and communication skills. Children absorb information and use new technologies like they're old hat. It's hard to imagine the amazing apps and tools they'll develop when they're older, if we get them started learning how to tinker now. Now, children are not just exploring the Internet – they’re building it.

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