Writing code is becoming a universal skill with boundless opportunities. Thinking like a computer – in logic, functions, loops, and objects – has its advantages. Computational thinking is rooted in logic and mathematics, but also requires creativity and ingenuity. With a basic proficiency, coding is a lot of fun. You can think of something – a game, puzzle, graphic, or web page- then write a program to create it; all you need is a computer and the Internet. Perhaps children start programming imaginary worlds rather than using traditional wooden building blocks.
One initiative is the Hour of Code, which to date, claims to have had seventy-five million participants. The concept is to expose a novice to programming. According to the website:
“Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity.”[i]
There are a few reasons why exposing children to programming is advantageous. First, as mentioned in the directive above, there are many transferable skills related to programming: problem solving, computational thinking, and novel thinking. Second, the results of programming – software and hardware applications – are used in every discipline and subject. It is useful to have basic coding skills. Third, there will always be high demand for programmers. Programing knowledge is a good career safety net. Finally, like learning a foreign language, children build coding skills faster.
Of course, there is an element of inspiration. To develop a passion for something, you need to be exposed to it. Moreover, many of the Internet startups start with a concept and then the founders spend countless hours programming it. You cannot predict when and if you might come up ‘that concept’. For example, Mark Zuckerberg was a psychology major at Harvard when he got the ‘Facebook concept’; he then utilized what programming skills he possessed to build the platform.[ii]
Future creativity might be stifled if we do not have an underlying concept of how programs work. Many of our current applications are extremely complicated and require years of knowledge to even make a contribution. It makes sense to get students learning about programs early in their education.
College students are padding their degrees by taking ‘certificates and coding boot camps’. According to a study, liberal-arts graduate can nearly double the available job opportunities by adding relevant technical skills.[iii]
Coding is powerful because you can program just about any concept: business processes, games, websites or mobile applications, and productivity boosters. All it takes is an understanding of how programs work, an underlying framework, and some imagination.
I learned basic coding skills in college as part of a computer applications minor. I practiced coding in my first job out of college where I created an order entry application for a small company. Throughout my career, I have coded a countless number of solutions: music store for a rock band, art gallery portfolios, sales and profitability application for a foreign multi-national, a personal website platform, a video gaming league, summer camp registrations, etc. The thing I love about coding is its flexibility – you can code just about anything; there is a solution to every problem.
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