How students learn to code in schools today
Currently, coding education in schools is largely limited to basic computer skills and one-off projects. Such as, creating simple webpages. Interested students may choose to participate in computer science enrichment courses outside of their regular studies.
But, these are not yet widely available. This means that for most students, learning about software development happens outside of the classroom.
Coding boot camps and MOOCs offer high quality learning opportunities. This is very useful for adults who want to switch careers or work towards being a developer.
However, there could be significant added value. If these resources were also made available to high school students as part of their curriculum – or even earlier.
The benefits of teaching kids to code early on are numerous:
Computer science concepts like algorithms and data structures are essential elements for every discipline from medicine to business.
Coding teaches persistence because it’s quite difficult.
Programming teaches problem solving skills by breaking down complex tasks into manageable chunks.
These skills will help students prepare for jobs without needing further training later on in life. With tech jobs being the fastest growing segment in today’s economy.
How can we teach students to code in 2021?
Generally, a minimum of 10 years is needed to learn how to code at a professional level. This means that, if coding education were introduced from elementary school onwards.
It would take at least 20 years for students to become proficient developers. But what if we could accelerate this process?
While most people agree that computer science should be taught from an early age. The question about how to do so most effectively and efficiently remains open.
One way is to pair students with expert teachers. They will help them to build good habits and master computational thinking concepts early on. Another way would be to introduce coding as part of the regular curriculum.
But, keep it optional until high school or university level. Just allow the students to have more time for ‘unlearning’ bad habits. They should build communication skills. Before they involved to larger programming projects.
The choice of language depends on its ubiquity and popularity amongst developers.
In fact, it has been changing quite rapidly over the last decade. This is making it difficult for schools to predict which language will be preferred in the future.
Learning to code by actually writing code
However, there is one simple method that could make a huge difference: learning to code by actually writing code.
This might sound like a no-brainer. But it’s not quite how coding is taught in schools at the moment. The Language Arts teacher will often assign her students some creative essay task.
While the math teacher will have his students solve problems with equations. But rarely do these two teachers have their students collaborate on a project together.
This lack of crossover makes it difficult for educators to introduce coding into their respective curricula – let alone across disciplines.
We believe that by teaching kids to code by actually writing code. We can accelerate learning. While keeping the curriculum flexible enough to be adapted as trends change or new opportunities arise.
Moreover, this approach would encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration between teachers and students. According from the real-life project work that has applications in multiple fields of study.
It makes easier for technology education advocates to introduce coding into schools across all disciplines.
Introducing the Coding Curriculum In order to achieve this. We need to first build and evaluate a coding curriculum designed for elementary school children.
This curriculum should flexible enough to be taught using any programming language or toolkit. The programming language that is trending at the time while being hands-on and project-oriented.
Once we have a solid curriculum in place, we can start looking for partners who are willing to pilot it at schools around the world. Along with, the goal of influencing national education standards in countries like Singapore, Australia, and Canada by 2021.
If we can achieve this, then by 2021, all students will have had an opportunity to learn to code while growing up.
Won’t we lose innovative thinking and creativity by introducing coding in schools?
There is no doubt that children are more creative than adults:
They play with blocks and build structures that don’t always have a purpose. They experiment with new shapes when coloring and they create imaginary worlds for their playmates.
When it comes to coding, however, the goal is not to replace creativity but rather to foster it. By learning computational thinking concepts early on and getting familiar with the tools used by developers.
The students become curious about how things work. On which will make them want to find out how things might work differently in the future.
This curiosity is what drives innovation. Also, it is what we need more of if we want our current generation of kids to change the world like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg did.
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