Coding is for Kids

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"Learning the fundamentals of coding provides students with skills that will serve them well in virtually any career they choose."

Those aren't my words — they're Matt Harrell's, taken from an essay he wrote called "Add Coding to Your Elementary Curriculum ... Right Now" on a great education site called Edutopia.

Matt sounds pretty worked up about the importance of teaching kids to code as early as possible — and I am, too. For that matter, so are Bill Gates and will.i.am. Check out this video.

Will.i.am, along with a bunch of other thinkers who don't even sing, have suggested that all schools — but especially those in underserved communities — would serve students well by making sure they get an early head start in practical digital-age skills like coding. Which leads to another question. What if Bill Gates pairs up on a record with will.i.am? No. What if most schools are primarily teaching students how to be good at school? How to take tests, memorize, regurgitate, and schmooze teachers. That last skill ironically has the most value.

Before I knew I could write or create, or even think, I knew I was miserable at math and spelling and taking tests. Even today I scratch my head at why most schools seem more structured to red-pen your weaknesses before highlighting and sparkle-starring your strengths.

Plenty of the red marks I got were well-earned for sure, but instead of helping me move forward they mainly served to give me the idea that big parts of school were not my cup of tea. On the other hand, if you took the time to show me a few tricks, I’d step up and give learning something new a shot. I’d be willing to guess that other untraditional learners like myself might step up too, if they're given the chance to study something that excites them.

And as Matt Harrell writes, kids today want to learn coding: "I've seen firsthand how excited both kids and their parents get over learning to code, but it's really the kids who enjoy the experience the most ... They want to learn how to make tablets and computers do useful things. They want to learn how to build websites. It's actually a very cool thing to them."

Teaching young learners how to code on a large scale, continues Mr. Harrell, will help transform children, and maybe adults, from being technology consumers to technology producers. This go-team premise of Matt’s really gets me fired up. It makes me almost want to go to my next school board meeting.

Almost.

In the meantime I'm putting a great big sparkle-star next to the idea of classrooms that help kids crack the code to their own futures.

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EducationKathryn Lake