To Code or Not to Code?

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“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”-Steve Jobs

In recent years it seems as though school systems are slowly realizing that the way we are preparing our students for the future is no longer beneficial.  In fact the Province of British Columbia recently announced that they will be implementing mandatory coding for students K-12.   Students have to be prepared to succeed in a world which is changing much faster than in the past.  Students can no longer be expected to be static learners in a singular space and time.  A basic understanding of technology and how computer systems work are skills that schools must begin to promote if students are to have success in the job market.  Coding has been seen in the past to be a skill required for jobs in the tech industry, however, the applications across curricula are astounding.  As seen in edutopia’s recent blog post, by @coolcatteacher15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code, there are even teachers developing lesson plans that teach coding skills and basics without the use of computers.

The principles of the process are fairly straightforward and can be linked to a variety of subject matter and added onto numerous skills sets.  As shared in this Connected Learning Podcast below, the skills that are being taught are not simply those need to program a computer but instead are the skills needed to tackle everyday problems in life.  This focus on problem solving is just one of the many advantages of learning to code.  Coding will also have a direct impact on math and science   Imagine students learning how to look back through their work, find errors or make suggestions, and improve on what they’ve done through collaboration with other students.  The future will be dominated by the need for people who understand how and why programs work the way they do.

 

Problem solving then becomes one of the secondary skills learned through coding.  This ensures that students will be prepared for a career or set of multiple careers in which they are able to easily adapt to difficult situations and solve complex problems by breaking them down into smaller pieces.  As shared in the video below, almost any career you can think of has been infiltrated by technology in some form.  Canada’s technology industry is seeing a major need for people with experience in programming and computer science. Our students are using more technology every day.  Wouldn’t behove us to teach them why and how their devices, laptops and cellphones actually function.

Is coding a necessary skill to enhance the prospects and skills sets of our students? Should we teach coding in schools?  Well, lets think of it this way.  Do we want future Canadian citizens who can solve complex problems, collaborate, create, enhance, and express themselves in new ways?  My goal for the next 3 months is to dive into this world of coding with the aim of eventually introducing coding to my middle years students.  The prospect of learning to code alongside my students is exiting and I will be documenting my learning as I increase my problem solving skills through the power of coding.

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4 thoughts on “To Code or Not to Code?

  1. Good Luck on your adventure! This is my biggest passion point as I join the world of Education. Coding is more about the problem solving. Teaching students how to logically form solutions to a problem and thinking something through. It also teaches students that being wrong is OK and to continue to try to find the correct solution. Lastly, it also teaches that there is more than one way to solve a problem. Have fun with code!

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  2. I am really looking forward to following your journey on this project. I have always been intrigued by what coding is but have pretty much no knowledge of it. I think the point you make about teaching students to be prepared to work in a world that is changing at a faster rate than ever seen before, is a crucial conversation that all educators should be having.

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  3. Coding is a very interesting endeavour and, depending on how you decide to explore, can offer interesting experiences in problem solving, time and frustration management, learning rationale (so we got the mouse to move across the screen – so what?) I have a mixed reaction to teaching coding. I think that it offers a great deal of opportunity to learn new and exciting skills which can help one to develop many other skills. But I also wonder how much is being pushed by an economic understory that isn’t being fully recognized or voiced or explored. Why coding and not Design Thinking or Graphic Design or Visualization or…..

    I applaud you for taking the initiative to venture forth into coding. It can be an exhilarating experience with the turns and twists of a great mystery – well, maybe not quite, but it can be exhilarating – the idea of drifting into the flow of coding where time has not meaning…..

    Enjoy and I look forward to see how your adventure unfolds.

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  4. While I may not be an expert in coding, the idea of teaching it is exciting. I am right with you in the likelihood that the jobs we are preparing them for in the future, especially those that don’t even exist right now, will require a more advanced knowledge of computer code and function. As a high school educator I find many of my “digital native” students, who should be much more skilled than I with the inner-workings and programming of computers, really couldn’t be less interested in it. Why is this? Maybe it is due to the fact that they never knew a day without a computer? Possibly they don’t recognize just how far computer technology has advanced in their lifetime alone? Maybe they just want to play games and text their friends? A real world skill that teaches math, problem solving, decision making, and shows students a real result at the end sounds like a winner to me. Good luck in building your curriculum.

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