Shouldn’t we? Personally, I think so, let’s face it, we’re living in a digital age with its own language, a language that governs much of how we now see the world. So, shouldn’t we all be reading and writing code? The introduction of the new computer science G.C.S.E in 2014 has had a disappointing up-take amongst school kids. Whilst I.C.T lessons have no doubt come on leaps and bounds since the Commodore 64 days (showing my age there) schools are still struggling when it comes to ensuring the next generation is as technically up-to-date as it needs to be.
One of the big problems appears to be the code itself. Viewed as difficult to understand and requiring attention to detail, it’s simply off-putting to kids. There are encouraging sites out there such as https://getcodingkids.com. Fantastic little site if you’re trying to get the kids into coding for the first time. Particularly on those boring wet days during the school holidays! The exercises are easy to understand and there’s something incredibly satisfying about seeing the code you have written translated into an actual webpage.
For adult learners https://www.codecademy.com is a more grown-up version. However, if you’re an absolute beginner (I miss you David Bowie) then I personally would start with a site aimed at children (seriously). Let’s face it, you wouldn’t start learning German at degree level, would you?
An interesting article featuring Dame Stephanie Shirley appeared in The Guardian in August 2017 regarding teaching children to code as young as two (as with any language the younger you are the easier it is to pick it up). However, it would appear the issue isn’t just an educational one. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to discuss the issues surrounding learning to code without touching on the gender inequality that surrounds the tech industry. Long seen as the stereotypical environment of the male ‘geek’, only 20% of Google engineers are female.
Hopefully, the digital workplace will catch up with other industries in its hiring and investment in females. The increasing number of female start-ups particularly in the tech industry offers hope that coding will stop being seen as something only teenage boys are interested in. Of course, if coding became part of the national curriculum from primary age it would wipe-out gender bias in one go! Wouldn’t it?!