Should Everyone Learn Code?
Should everyone—including children—know how to program a computer? Check out this Wired article by Klint Finley:
“Carlos Bueno wants your 5-year-old to think like a programmer.
By day, Bueno is a Facebook engineer. He helps hone software on the servers underpinning the world’s largest social network. But he moonlights as a children’s author. His first book is called Lauren Ipsum, and it’s a fairy tale that seeks to introduce children — as young as five or as old as 12 — to the concepts of computer science.
But this isn’t done with code. It’s done with metaphors. In one scene, the titular character, Laurie Ipsum, teaches a mechanical turtle to draw a perfect circle using simple instructions in the form of a poem. ‘I wanted to write a book not on how to program, but how to think like a programmer,’ Bueno tells Wired.
The book was illustrated by his wife, Ytaelena Lopez, and the two self-published after raising funds on Kickstarter. Bueno — who ‘tested’ the book on his nephews as he wrote it — says that programming should be a part of everyone’s education. ‘The first step to controlling your life in the modern world is understanding computers,’ he says.
Lauren Ipsum is part of a much larger movement that seeks to bring programming skills to, well, everyone. At MIT, researchers have built a programming platform called Scratch that targets children as young as eight years old, and this gave rise to a Google-funded platform called App Inventor that applies many of the same tools to the development of Android applications.
Meanwhile, a startup called Codecademy is now offering programming lessons over the web in an effort to turn the everyman into a programmer, and in January, when it announced a crash course called ‘Code Year,’ over 445,985 people pledged to learn to code in 2012, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Not everyone is keen on the idea. Just last week, Jeff Atwood, the CTO and co-founder of the question-and-answer site StackExchange, lambasted the code literacy movement with a blog post entitled ‘Please Don’t Learn Code.’
But Carlos Bueno believes this sells programming well short. ‘Programming is a broadly applicable life skill,’ he says. ‘Even if you’re not in front of a computer, you can use programming skills for problem solving.’ Lauren Ipsum doesn’t include any computer code, but it does seek to instill the ideas behind computer programming.
Mark Surman, the Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, says that although some children may not be suited to computer science, we should at least expose them to it. ‘If we want kids to be makers rather than consumers (our goal), this is a critical age,’ he says.” Read more here.
As for me, I can’t imagine why I would learn code. But I kind of think my kids should. How about you?