I guess I was a bit surprised to read that there were arguments against coding in school because I feel that coding is knowledge and that makes it relevant. Personally, I do not know much about coding. I tried to take a college coding course in 2000, but I got frustrated and confused, so I dropped it. It was harder than learning a foreign language and every time I went to my professor for help, I left feeling even more confused and frustrated. I felt like I was the only person in the class that didn’t understand it. It reminded me of when I took basic auto in high school and was the only girl in a class that included my younger brother. The first day, the teacher talked about engines, cylinders, and strokes. I was completely lost in the vocabulary and became frustrated when I saw all of the other students nodding along and answering questions. I felt stupid, so I dropped that class too. I have always regretted giving up on those classes, but it is disheartening to go to class and feel stupid every day. Maybe if I had background knowledge of automobiles and coding, things would have been different.
The New York Times held a written debate about teaching coding and the arguments were quite compelling. An argument by Partovi (2014) made me think about how different my attitude would have been had I been introduced to coding in elementary school. He stated, “Students learn fast at a young age, before stereotypes suggest coding is too difficult, just for nerds, or just for boys. Besides, building apps or games is far more engaging than arithmetic, yet these activities all teach the same concepts. Third-grade students can learn about angles as they work on animation, not just with multiple-choice questions.” I have to admit that I felt that both basic auto and coding was more suited for boys. I was never encouraged to learn about cars in grade school and we had computers when I was in elementary school, but they only played games like Word Munchers and The Oregon Trail.
I don’t know a lot of code and quite frankly, coding still intimidates me. I do not like it or care to do a lot of it. I definitely do not find it enjoyable. However, I am now wondering if I need to learn it well enough to teach it to my students. Even though I do not feel like I am good at it, I believe that “teaching coding at schools represents transforming a generation of students from passive consumers of technology to active creators. It encourages their creativity and prepares them for a future in which programmers will be in even greater demand. If students can adopt the language of coding at an early age, they will have laid the foundation for a greater understanding of the tools they utilize in their everyday lives. And who knows—introducing coding to a group of kindergartners may just help unearth a whole new legion of tech CEOs who could change our world as we know it” (Zamora, 2014).
There are people who make compelling arguments against coding. For example, Dvorak (2014) states, “A second grader should be running around, throwing a ball, scratching out drawings, learning fine motor skills and developing normal interpersonal social skills. Being hunched over a computer screen coding in some kiddy language to supposedly develop computer literacy is insane.” It is true that there seems to be less outdoor activity and more time in front of electronics for most students. I know that over half of my kindergarteners had access to an iPad at home. I now wonder what they would have chosen if I had asked them if they would rather go outside to play or spend that time on the iPad in our classroom. I know that many parents are conscientious about how much time they allow their child to spend with electronics, but that is not the case for all parents. Further, how do we know the appropriate amount of time a child should be on electronics?
Dvorak, J. C. (2014, May 12). Teaching Coding to Kids Is a Scam . Retrieved June 23, 2015, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/teaching-coding-to-kids-is-a-scam
Partovi, H. (2014, May 12). Teach Coding As Early as Possible. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/teach-coding-as-early-as-possible
Zamora, W. (2014, April 1). Why Coding Should Be Taught in Elementary School. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from Techspiration : http://techblog.evan-moor.com/2014/04/01/coding-taught-elementary-school/