Why learning to code is vital for our future
Posted on September 15, 2020
Elizabeth Tweedale, CEO, Cypher
Code is the language of the modern world, whether it’s the watch on your wrist telling you how many steps you’ve done, or the app bringing your emails to your phone. Every smart device needs instructions (code) to operate and communicate.
That’s why it’s no surprise that this modern language is a lifelong skill, one that children can take with them into their futures. The recent pandemic has demonstrated how vital coding really is. With more companies relying on tech, it’s no surprise people with coding experience are becoming highly sought after.
Coding has become so central to businesses across all sectors that the next generation will view it as an essential skill in order to keep up with the new developments. Technology is already handling many repetitive tasks and with further developments, including AI, this will only develop further in the future. For those equipped with skills of the future, the jobs that are being reimagined today will be filled with those who hold these skills and can engage with new opportunities in technology.
With National Coding Week upon us, here is why a comprehensive understanding of coding should be an integral part of every education.
Contrary to popular belief, teaching children to code will not exclusively create a world of developers, but instead equip the next generation with the vital skills they need for any career they choose. Fashion designers use code to create 3D printed garments, engineers use code to calculate stress on different building materials, and epidemiologists use code to predict the effects of viruses in populations.
The benefit of learning computational thinking, the core concepts behind developing code and algorithms, is that it gives students both the tools to think around problems and promotes the idea that there are many ways to solve a problem. It also encourages curiosity, collaboration and communication.
As Steve Jobs once said, “a computer is a bicycle for your mind”. Learning to code teaches children how to think differently, effectively and logically by taking a large problem and tackling it by breaking it down into smaller chunks.
When children learn computational thinking they develop the same skills needed to problem solve, as well as those skills needed to bounce back after failure. Coding can be challenging at times, helping children to develop resilience and a level of perseverance. Learning from our mistakes is a positive opportunity to learn vital problem–solving skills that will prepare children for their futures.
Coding gives children the ability to try and try again until they succeed, often using mathematics to solve tasks without even realising it. In addition, not only will learning to code mean solving problems mathematically, but it also requires kids to think outside the box. Trying to solve difficult problems requires creative solutions, a highly sought-after skill which is often difficult to teach in more traditional classroom subjects.
As an entrepreneur, architect and mother of three, I use the same skills honed through years of coding and problem solving in the day to day running of my business and household!
Diversity and equal opportunities in tech
Early life experiences often shape our future interests, which is why learning to code should be encouraged and implemented from a young age. When I was a child, I loved video games. This was my first segue into coding as I had a strong understanding of the direct correlation between creating what I loved and this new language.
To get children (especially girls) more interested in coding we have to tap into their own personal interests. This is why, at Cypher, we use creative themes like under the sea and the adventures of wonderland to spark kids’ imaginations.
Over half of our students are girls which we believe is because we focus on these thematic and creative approaches to coding, opposed to other methods. Not only can coding broaden children’s horizons but it has the ability to change the stigma around girls in technology and break the “boys only” stereotype, providing a new diverse generation of children adept in coding. This diversity is essential to avoid bias in algorithms and processes used in technology.
Teaching kids to code will help them to be future-ready. It’ll create a world where children will have an unlimited appetite for curiosity, enabling them to move forward, open new doors and be able to write their own futures.