Teaching kids to code is seen as the 'new black' in education. Over the last couple of years it has gained support and is now a curriculum priority in Australia with the release of the Technologies Curriculum. Resources, educational products, research and training continue to harp on about how important it is to teach kids to code. It is going to set them up for the jobs of the future...whatever they are..
The reality is that coding is NOT the new black. It's more the new blue...collar, that is. Read on to find out why.
Straight from the horse's mouth
During his keynote, Taj made a point that really resonated with me. Teaching kids to code is not preparing them for the future. Thirty years ago, the ability to send an email or even use Microsoft Office was the bar educational institutions aimed for when preparing their students for the future jobs market. These days, those skills are the norm and are just expected in the workforce across a broad spectrum of industries. The ability to code is not going to open doors for our students in the future - because everyone will be able to do it!
What made Mark Zukerberg a success (or even Taj Pabari), wasn't their ability to program a computer - it was their ability to innovate and create new ideas and that is what we need to foster in our learners.
The new economy is here!
In the future, any job that can be replaced by automation will be. Filling heads with knowledge that can be found on Google is a waste of time in the classroom. The new economy is one of innovation! Strong communication skills, the ability to collaborate, emotional intelligence, digital literacy and most importantly creativity are the currency we need our students to be trading in. The Word Economic forum highlighted the growing importance of creativity in its Future Jobs Report, with creativity coming third to Complex Problem Solving and Critical Thinking. We can only guess as to what skills will be prioritised in the coming years, let alone what will be important by the time our students in Kindergarten graduate.
Coding isn't all bad!
I love teaching kids to code and what's more I think it is immensely valuable for them to learn. I am in no way saying that we should take a step back from teaching coding in our schools. In fact, we need more schools jumping on board early on. Just as it is with learning a second language, learning to code and think computationally is best developed in the early years of education. Computational thinking has benefits for students across the curriculum. The ability to decompose a problem or think in a more abstract way can assist students to understand more deeply, plan and develop solutions. Coding is a vehicle for teaching complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity - all identified as important skills for the future.
So by all means, jump on the coding bandwagon, but don't turn it into a unicorn. It's a good skill for our students to have in their 21st Century arsenal but it is not the only skill they should have.
Read all about my thoughts on teaching in the 21st Century, my experiences with technology in the classroom, running a Maker Space, launching STEAM and Design Thinking with students, coding, robotics and much more!
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