“All of today’s kids will need—along with reading, writing, and arithmetic—a basic understanding of computation and the role that it plays across a wide range of disciplines. Coding is engaging and empowering. It’s a necessary 21st Century Skill.”
Jan Cuny – Program Officer, National Science Foundation
It’s suddenly not enough to be a fluent user of software interfaces. Understanding what lies behind the computer’s seeming magic now seems crucial. In particular, “computational thinking” is captivating educators, from kindergarten teachers to college professors, offering a new language and orientation to tackle problems in other areas of life.
This promise — as well as a job market hungry for coding — has fed enrollments in classes like the one at Berkeley, taken by 500 students a year. Since 2011, the number of computer science majors has more than doubled, according to the Computing Research Association.
“If you can program a computer, you can achieve your dreams. A computer doesn’t care about your family background, your gender, just your potential to code. But we’re only teaching it in a small handful of schools, why?”
Dick Costolo – CEO, Twitter
If we think of the code as a language, we can very well say that it’s one of the most used languages in the world. In a world where most jobs involve programming and dealing with software, code becomes the new, worldwide language.
Considering this picture, we should begin treating programming as part of literacy in the digital era.
This is not our theory: kids learn faster and better. If we look at digital natives, we see that they show a surprising predisposition to using certain tools.
3 years old kids use iPads as if it was the easiest thing in this world; 10 years old kids build games on Scratch, and teenagers run YouTube channels with millions of subscribers.
We see this at every Hour of Code, where we are not surprised anymore to see kids talking with confidence and extraordinary knowledge of the subject. These are the times we realize how fast they learn.
That’s the age we have to act and introduce them to programming.
What happens when kids’ unlimited imagination meets a tool with infinite potentialities such as coding?
It’s an explosive combo: the kids’ imagination can express wholly through a tool that allows them to realize everything they’re thinking about.
It is the case of Scratch. Have you ever sat with your kids while they play it? Do you know what they do all the time they spend on the computer? Do you realize he’s developing the mind of an programmer?
Try doing some research on YouTube to see what kids can do from Scratch and you’ll be amazed.
Programming helps to break down the problems into a myriad of smaller problems; it teaches you not to freeze on the bigger problem, but rather to understand it by breaking it down and finding solutions to small issues. That way it is much easier, and it’s the only chance to find a solution to the original problem.
This means being able to analyze different situations in order to connect the dots eventually.
This type of skills, which have been defined soft skills are a requirement almost anywhere; not only for positions that involve software and programming. In a constantly evolving job market, it is important to nurture these skills from an early age.
Learning how to code introduces kids to problem solving; it shows how to look at the whole picture and face the problem from different points of view.
We are here to make mistakes and have fun. The latter wouldn’t be possible without the first.