Why Learn To Code?
Why learn to code? More specifically, why have your child learn to code?
For the unaware and the curious, coding is what makes websites, software, apps, and virtually everything else related to computers or the Internet, go from a possibility to a reality.
Some computer scientists compare the skill of knowing how to code to knowing how to read at the time when the world began turning from an economy of farmers to one of industrialists a few centuries ago. Technology is the language that the global economy speaks, and coding is its syntax. Understanding it gives young people the power to change the world as they leave school and enter adulthood. And isn’t that what we all want for our kids?
Not convinced? Here are a few well-known people’s thoughts on why learning to code is important:
So, in this article we are going to cover the questions and topics that frequently come up in discussions with parents on their children’s education:
We are also going to share some great FREE resources to get you or your student started learning to code.
As a starting point into this discussion on Why Learn to Code, I wanted to share a bit about UCode. We have been teaching kids to code since 2009 – actively teaching kids to code in schools, camps, labs, and online. We have run programs in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Hang Zhou, Taipei, Berlin, Ithaca NY, Los Angeles, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Saudi Arabia. So, we have taught lots of kids to code and have some well-considered views about kids and coding.
We do not believe that everyone needs to be a computer scientist or programmer. That is fanciful. But we do believe that coding is the unofficial language of our modern economy and that students become fluent in this language. Why? Because it opens up very broad career horizons – even in areas like the arts. Consider this:
Whether we realize it or not, technology is already transforming the world around us. Modern software is creating more efficient cities, manipulating big data for better decision-making, and developing a sharing economy that benefits both users and providers. Smartphones have accelerated Internet access around the world, including billions of new users in developing countries.
The above is the big picture view. Yes, society needs more people with high levels of technical fluency. But how does learning to code help your child?
We believe that one of the real benefits of learning to code is that it develops computational thinking skills. Learning to code will teach your child how to think. Students who learn how to think computationally will be the ones who participate in the modern economy — and they will be the ones who can create their own futures.
Computational thinking offers students three main benefits:
Computational thinking is also helpful in any number of subjects that your student is pursuing in school. It can help students explore new information and ideas, and it can be universally applied — no matter what they’re interested in studying and no matter what line of work they want to pursue – in computer science, business, medicine, law or the arts.
We also see that coding can significantly strengthen applications to university. Python is now a required course at all Ivy Leagues, University of California and Top 20 universities. So having it on your resume when you apply is seen as a plus. lGoogle, Meta, NASA, YouTube, and Industrial Light and Magic – the special effects company owned by Disney – are always looking for good Python programmers. And it is a great language if you are new to coding as Python uses intuitive commands such as ‘if’, ‘for’, ‘while’, ‘try’, ‘with’ and ‘print’ that are easily recognizable and follow the syntax of basic English composition.http://www.python.org
Computer technology first came into the home in the 1980s and 1990s. At that time, people who worked to develop software and code these home computers were seen as especially talented individuals who were naturally gifted in science, technology, engineering and math — better known as STEM subjects.
That’s no longer the case in the 21st century. As technology becomes a larger and larger part of our everyday lives, there’s a growing need for educated professionals who understand computers and software. The world needs a thriving pipeline of students who are learning to code and use the most advanced technologies because that’s what the future will require.
And it’s not just future computer programmers and coders who will need to understand technology. The ability to use advanced technologies will touch every field. Doctors will need to use robotics to deliver the most innovative surgeries and procedures. Attorneys will need to defend and prosecute cases that concern intellectual property. Work in financial sectors, sales, marketing, agriculture, public service, and other industries will increasingly require an in-depth understanding of how technology works and how it helps deliver the products and services that move the global economy forward.
Unfortunately, few students are getting an education in coding and other technology-focused subjects. England became the first country to add coding to its required curriculum, mandating instruction for students ages 5 to 16. But in the USA coding curriculum is desperately needed in classrooms in all countries, engaging students of all ages.
This type of curriculum is important both because the future workforce will need tech-savvy professionals, but it’s also important because an understanding of technology will be your student’s ticket to stability and success in the economy to come.
Our experience suggests that to begin to learn to code requires a 2nd grade reading level. If your child is younger than 2nd grade, you can still help your child learn to code and enjoy the many benefits of this advanced skill through the following:
–There is no right or wrong coding language to start with. We think Python is important, but HTML/CSS, Unity and Java have distinct benefits. The important thing is to pick a good course. But how to do that?
With covid and the explosion in online learning, there are a lot of people and companies that have begun to teach Python Coding to Kids. Many of these are people who know how to program, but not how to teach. Others know how to teach, but not how to program. There are a lot very ordinary providers and some you should avoid.
So how to choose? What do you look for? Here are some critical features:
If you want to see examples of good coding curricula and courses that teach coding to kids, I recommend you go and pull down the UCode curriculum. It is free. There are short instructional videos, integrated quizzes, project steps and coding exercises in a state-of-the-art learning management system. The videos are fun and introduce the programming concepts using non-technical language. Instruction is available, but not required. We have done all the heavy lifting. You just bring the student. And yes, access to the LMS is free. Instruction is on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Here are some links to overviews of popular courses:
 Hinsliff, Gaby. “Should Your Kids Learn to Code?” The Guardian. 03 Dec. 2015.
 “Deep Shift: 21 Ways Software Will Transform Global Society.” World Economic Forum.
 “How Smartphones and Mobile Internet Have Changed Our Lives.” TestObject.com.
 “National Curriculum in England: Computing Programmes of Study.” GOV.UK.