Why every kid needs to learn coding

I know all the arguments about “preparing for the future” (which is now, by the way), getting tech jobs, the value of computational thinking, digital literacy et al. And they’re all relevant and true. But here’s my take, as a former English teacher. I’ll explain why that’s relevant.

No one ever questions that all students need to learn how to write in various modes — persuasive, explanatory, argumentative, in various styles, like fiction, poetry, etc. In my long career, I have never heard anyone question this by saying, “How many of these students are going to be writers when they grow up?” It’s self-evident that the skills you learn from writing are necessary in every endeavor — organization, self-expression, articulation, and creativity.

Perhaps because computer science as a school subject is in its infancy, however, people don’t know quite what to do with it in the curriculum and more importantly, WHY it should be there. And certainly STEM jobs is a good rationale, as are the others listed above.

However, I believe that coding is, can be, and should be, a primary tool in every kid’s toolkit for self-expression. Just as writing is a vehicle for everyone to express their deepest thoughts, feelings, aspirations, and musings, so is coding. Sure, you can program “big iron” business applications. But everyone can also code music, art, literature, dance… It can be an avenue for expressing all of the things that make us truly human.

Call me crazy, or a fuzzy “soft skills” person. Guilty as charged! But I’ve seen kids, when given creative leeway to make something of their own choosing that matches their own personal passions and ideas, create mind-blowing stuff. Just as they might in art class, music class, or language class.

Who’s with me?

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