Teaching Code in School: Necessary or a Waste of Time?
Coding is about creating software, applications, and websites and for advanced searching and computing. Computers are taking a significant part of everybody’s life nowadays. We use computers because they are fast in doing specific jobs, and code writing is the way to communicate and understand the computers. Until today, per Internet Live Stats website there are more than two billion Internet users worldwide and more than two million users specifically in Kuwait. By this statistic, we can conclude that there are more than two million people in Kuwait are using computers or smart-phones, which are a smaller computer on individuals’ pockets. Nowadays codes are powering almost everything around us. When you hit the power button in your computer, the code is powering up your device to let you launch your favorite applications and software. When you visit websites like eBay or Amazon to order your favorite things, it is the codes which are behind this process to be completed. For now, it is just the beginning age of coding. Would you be able to imagine how is our life going to be until the next decade? We can see how the world is developing nowadays and how coding is helping us to do things much faster or we have done things that we could not do without the power of codes. Is it not necessary to learn how to code while it is one of the most important things that we will need in our future and it will contribute to changing our country in future? Nowadays, because we are welcoming the digital age, and because of the significant daily increase in the computer devices and Internet usage, the programming languages will be a basic literacy, so I think coding should be taught in schools, especially for the next generations of students.
First of all, in Kuwait, many students are not learning the necessary skills for advanced thinking, for instance, creative and logical thinking, because Kuwait’s education system is not about thinking and solving, but memorizing and answering. Students in Kuwait focus only on remembering the information seeking for highest grades without caring about understanding the concepts and how they could use them in their daily life. Therefore, there are many benefits from learning and teaching programming for students and expand it with many different skills. As Steve Jobs mentioned, according to goodreads.com, “Everybody … should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think,” so we are teaching students how to think if we teach them how to program from their early years. Also, Allan, Collins, and Richard Halverson’s book assumed that the use of computers in schools is a better way to earn better educational outcomes. Learning the computers had been applied from many years ago, but the authors admit that even though computers have been used in education for over 30 years, the curriculum has not focused on computational thinking that can be achieved by teaching code to children in schools. Because of such teaching, learning programming will make the learning process easier, more beneficial, and it will grant the learner many aspects. Moreover, Werrell says that the major benefit of teaching the children to code is to let them develop their computational thinking skill, “the ability to spot mistakes,” which is the key to problem-solving. Moreover, according to Andoni’s article, the student will gain computational thinking aspects which will help the learner to analyze and break tasks to create algorithms, which means make a process and scenario that they are using in their daily life. Besides the creativity aspect, because programming needs to solve problems, so coding will teach the learner how to break tasks into multiple pieces, which is the method for problem-solving skills, so the student should be creative in finding the right and the best solution. Also, in this way it will help them achieve more activities and jobs throughout their lives. Furthermore, learning how to code will help the children to analyze their problems and find solutions for them. Werrell contends that coding shows the children new ways to learn about the logical thinking process and it is a fundamental skill in achieving success in any field the children will pursue. I have a cousin who lives in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, who taught his son, Abdullah, how to program in many different languages at home. As in his father’s description, Abdullah became a very creative and critical thinker, problem solver, and logical speaker, especially when he combines it with learning Arabic syntax and the Holy Quran. Thus, we will have a great generation of students with upper thinking skills.
Also, coding is everywhere, and everyone can learn it. Many companies and organizations are supporting the idea of teaching codes in school; one of the companies that support coding for children is Apple. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, said that Apple gave more than three hundred and fifty scholarships for programmers under the age of eighteen to attend Apple’s events for developers and the youngest child was only nine years old. Not only that, Apple donated four thousand iPads for teachers and fifty thousand for children in schools. Not only Apple who recommends coding there is also Werrell who suggests coding to children through some fun resources like Frozen Coding Tutorials at Code.org, ScratchJr, CS Is Fun, Kano, Made with Code, and Hour of Code with Khan Academy among many other fun resources. Cook also revealed that more than one hundred schools and districts applied Swift Playground, a program to introduce Swift coding language in easy ways for children to use in their school education curriculum. Some of these countries who supported Swift Playground in their educational system are Dubai and United State. Moreover, in the next three years, a nonprofit organization expects that there will be more computer science jobs than computer science graduates. According to D’Andrea, at the time she published the article, the best strategy was to spread the education of learning programming to teach a student at a time, and then one of their children, and they saw improvements, so they wanted to apply this strategy on a larger scale. They start it by teaching in school focusing on the instructors, in open libraries, and other places. Thus, they expand this strategy by events for children and young people to give them an opportunity to work with computer programming, circuits, robotics, and so on. Beside to filling the gap, they wanted to teach others how to solve problems, to better understand of computers because many people nowadays do not use the computers in the right way, and to write interactive programs. Most countries need more acknowledged programming teachers because it is a problem most of the world is having, so teaching the instructors would be one of the greatest solutions for this problem to help students get a better education for coding. Learning computer programming in schools needs some qualified teachers who believe in the real outcomes of learning how to code. Not as what we had in Kuwait in 2008 curriculum, the computer learning course that focuses on the Logo educational language and visual basic, none of the teachers knows the benefits from learning it, and none of them knows the language very well. Thus, to ensure that applying for the programming courses in schools will be effective, we need to make sure that every single tutor knows how to deliver the real outcomes out of the curriculum. Furthermore, would it be possible to bring it to schools in Kuwait? In Kuwait’s educational system it would be easier to achieve teaching coding in school because all private and public schools already have computers labs, so it will not be an issue to provide the required equipment.
Finally, maybe for some people, it is not necessary to learn to code, and it is just a waste of time, but it is one of the most important things that we will need in our future. Although some people might think coding is not necessary, our future will depend on more on computers and digital components, so learning how to code will make it easier for the learner communicate and deal with the computer. Coding will increase the employment opportunities, and it will provide more jobs for people in the future because there will be more fields for more developers to design and run the software for hardware products or to develop some applications and plugins to have an advance experience with any software. Also, learning to code and understanding the computers will make it easier to pass interviews. As a friend of mine who studied in the United States told me that he was majoring in business and before his graduation, he wanted to get two subjects in the liberal arts field, and he chose to get programming classes in C++ coding language. He once told me, “Learning how to program was one of the hardest choices I have ever made, but when you learn it, you never regret. It also helped me to pass the job interview in Qatar.” Coding is not a waste of time because programmers can make useful applications that can contribute to changing many longstanding concepts like sending mail letter to another address that takes a long time to send and receive to a faster way which is sending e-mails and another jump to instant messages like WhatsApp. Some people think it is hard for their children to learn to program in school. Gülbahar mentioned that programming courses have been mandatory in higher education, and the possibility of those courses to be included in all middle and secondary school levels is very high. She chose to teach programming in easy programming environments in Scratch, which is a visual programming language. She thinks it is a better way to teach young students in an accessible, easy, and interactive way because it makes the students to write codes easier and to have a better understanding of the coding blocks. When they tried it in school, they speculate that it is more engaging than other standard science and literature subjects, because Scratch has more visualizing and it can be used to program interactive stories, games, and animations and share all the creations with others in the online community. Thus, coding does not have to be hard to learn, and teaching coding in visualized language will help the students to get rid of memorizing and answering concept to understanding and solving.
To sum up, teaching and learning to code are important for everybody, but especially for the next generation because they are going to rely on computers more than what the statisticians are expecting in the future and because we are going to have a gap in the computer science, programming, and developing fields. Werrell contends that it is necessary for children to learn how to code because coding is the future of education and the society and it is a crucial for children’s future regardless of their future career choice because, as he claims, coding is more than developing software and websites. Coding is a skill where you can earn the fundamentals for upper thinking skill such as computational, creative, and logical computational thinking which will help in raising a significant number of students’ brains. Besides the skill to break tasks and problem solving which a skill that we are about to miss in Kuwait.
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“Kuwait Internet Users.” Internet Live Stats. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.
Alhussainan, Othman. Personal interview. Apr. 2015.
Collins, Allan, and Richard Halverson. “Rethinking education in the age of technology: The digital revolution and schooling in America.” New York; Teachers College Press, 2009.
D’Andrea, Kristen. “Next Generation Programmers: Long Island Couple Aims to Increase Tech Education for Kids.” Long Island Business News, 2014.
Gülbahar, Yasemin, and Filiz Kalelioğlu. “The Effects of Teaching Programming Via Scratch on Problem Solving Skills: A Discussion from Learners’ Perspective.” Informatics in Education – An International Journal, 2014. pp. 33-50.
Sanz, Andoni. “Why Teaching and Learning How to Code in Schools.”EdTechReview. N.p., 26 Apr. 2015. Web. 05 Nov. 2016.
Werrell, Beth. “Why Learning to Code Benefits Kids, Regardless of Future Career Choice.” Connectionsacademy. N.p., 04 Dec. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.