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Should we be teaching kids coding at school?

January 10, 2014
Two young school children help each other learn the computer.

Silly, you left off the alt-text

My four-year-old nephew can use a tablet. He can search for Mr Bean and bright yellow migraine inducing kid’s shows. He knows how to start up a PC and access and play Angry Birds on a smartphone.

Like many kids, he knows some basic computer stuff already. So, as well as learning how to write the alphabet, should he be able to learn how to programme computers when he starts school?

Some think so. In a recent Guardian article, Emma Mulqueeny of Young Rewired State was quoted as saying that “…children should have a degree of computational thinking. They should know that Google is an algorithm and what an algorithm is…..And all kids need digital skills, so they’re not only safe but in control of their digital world…”

The UK government has kicked out word processing in their revised curriculum, and now five year olds will be learning simple coding.

Three school girls sit on the floor with their feet up while they learn on a computer together.

The comfy way to learn computing

So, why the big fuss over coding?

Coding tells computers what to do. With coding knowledge you can build an app for a mobile phone, design a game or make a website.

The hope is that schools get kids excited about coding, and hopefully coding careers. This could sort out the problem of finding skilled programmers in New Zealand.

Should this only be for kids into computing?

Well, little Charlotte and Hemi will need to be a bit into computers in the future – whatever they do.

Kids may not go into computing, but the skills learnt won’t be wasted. Coding teaches you to break down tasks into clear instructions. It builds maths and logic skills, attention to detail, resiliance, language and communication skills.

Is it too difficult for schools?

There is no reason why coding can’t be taught now under the guidelines in the current curriculum area of technology.

Free coding courses

A row of young primary school students study on computers at school

Children taking control of the internet

If you want to learn coding yourself, or teach a child, here are some good places to start:

Code academy

Code avengers

Treehouse

Scratch

Photo credits

Image: ‘Blue Glow’ found on flickrcc.net

Image: ‘Comfortable computing’ found on flickrcc.net

Image: ‘Computer lab -4th grade‘ found on flickrcc.net

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