Coding … The New Second Language

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March 31, 2013 by mgontovn

In 1972, an American computer scientist by the name Dennis Ritchie developed a computer programming language called C. Not only did Dennis “help shape the digital era,” but he also revolutionized the way computer systems work today. “The creation of C was a direct result of the need for a structured, efficient, high-level language that could replace assembly code when creating system programs.”[1] This ultimately led to the widely known operating system Unix. Today, C language, is not only the most widely used coding language, but also influenced most modern computer languages and operating systems.

In today’s society, technology has become one of the biggest uses for people in this day and age. We take for granted what is given to us and how we use it. As technology is growing, people need to adapt to the changes that are being made and get more involved. The school learning structure has been around for decades and nothing has really changed. But as technology is advancing further at such a fast pace, we need to look into the future and start changing the curriculum around to counteract the opportunity of future learning. This brings me to my main point, which is:

Should coding be put into the education curriculum throughout district school boards?

Computer languages are similar to that of learning a second language like French or Spanish. It’s an additional way of reading and writing and should be implemented into the educational curriculum at a young age. Beginning with a simple language such as C or C++ is basic, but fundamental to the programming world. These languages have helped developed many existing programs and devices all around you, that you probably aren’t even aware of.

I was surfing the Internet and stumbled across a website called code.org, which is a “non-profit foundation to growing computer programming education. The goals include:

  • Spreading the word that there is a worldwide shortage of computer programmers, and that it’s much easier to learn to program than you think
  • Building an authoritative database of all programming schools, whether they are online courses, brick+mortar schools or summer camps”[2]

Their vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn how to code. I believe that this could have a major impact on the future of our educational system and the beginning of a new era in the world of higher learning.

There are many supporters of this new initiative such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, all the way to professional athletes like Chris Bosh. Former president Bill Clinton also agrees that students should have the opportunity to learn to code in schools. According the code.org website, computer science is among the highest paid college degrees and computer programming jobs are growing at 2X the national average. In the United States 41 of 50 states, coding classes don’t count towards high school graduation math or science requirements. There is huge demand for these jobs out there and its one of the highest growing industries out there. We need to start changing and adapting to new opportunities and educational learning isn’t any different.

internetusagestatistics

world2012users

There is no question that technology has vastly impacted our lives in almost every way. With all this being said, the Internet, in my opinion, is one of the greatest inventions of all time (the wheel might take the number one invention), but the fact is that nearly 35% of the worlds population uses the Internet. If we look at North America alone, we can see that the penetration rate is 78.6% of the population, which also includes a growth rate of 153.3%. Now if we compare these numbers to Africa, the chart illustrates that only 15.6% of the population uses the Internet, however there is a growth rate of 3,606.7%.

Why should kids be taught coding at such a young age?

Children are way more receptive to picking up new words and sounds effortlessly during the critical period of cortex development. As children begin to get older it becomes more difficult for them to progress as they did as kids. Apparently even after the age of 10, learning new words becomes progressively harder, and then as adults, it is even more challenging.

Children need a stimulating environment in which to learn and be provided with opportunities to play, explore, and interact. Coding will allow these kids to challenge themselves by thinking on a different level. Being able to stimulate kids brains and seeing the instant gratification of inputting code and seeing what they can create is vital to their learning. It gives them the opportunity to create something from just an idea. An interesting article came up about four UK schools starting an initiative called “hack day.” This is a two-day program where students set aside their normal work to work on creative projects. The students were placed in mixed-school groups ranging from the ages of 13 and 15 and were given instructions to create a website or application with the theme “open access” in just 24 hours. Programs and initiatives like this allow students to actively engage in creative projects with collaboration with their peers. It is more than just an added subject; it’s a new way of thinking and should definitely be implemented into the new era of education.


[2] http://www.code.org/about

Works Cited

Bunnell, Dave. “Why Is It Easier for Young Children to Learn a New Language?”

Celebrate Aging! ELDR Media, LLC, 21 Aug. 2007. Web. 29 Mar. 2013.

Emiley, J. “The Birth and History of C Programming Language.” The Birth and History of C Programming Language. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2013.

Murray, Janet. “A New Generation of Coders.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 30 Apr. 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2013.

Partovi, Hadi. Code.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2013.

“World Internet Users Statistics Usage and World PopulationStats.” World Internet Users Statistics Usage and World PopulationStats. Internet World Stats, 30 June 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.

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