Essential question: What are the compelling arguments both for and against computer coding in schools?
In reading this week, it was hard to find much of an argument against coding. The main issue I came across was how much coding should be required in schools and how it should be taught? For this second part of how it should be taught I did find an argument by Harel (2015) about the "pop computing" that is popping up everywhere. These are more tutorials and not computer science. Things can be done in hours with some clicks, drops, and drags. This is not the way computer science works and requires little coding if any at all. This may be a good place to start if students have no experience, but we still need to teach more than this. "By promoting “pop computing” apps to kids in schools, we aren’t doing the hard thinking that defines what the subject of computing is today, and most importantly, what it can be in the future...We are doing a disservice to kids by assuming that they can’t grasp industry-standard languages, complex computer science topics, and applications. By limiting them, we undermine their capabilities and stifle their creative and inventive potential."
So why is it so important to teach coding?
Here are the reasons according to "3 Reasons Coding Should be a Core Subject" (2015):
1. Programming can be used in many disciplines.
I really like the argument for coding that NPR gave in this post above. They argue for a basic coding literacy for everyone, but argue that we shouldn't require people to delve deeper into something they aren't interested in. In the NPR post Jeff Atwood relates the coding hype to an obsession with becoming and auto mechanic. "There are tons of cars, there's tons of driving ... but I think it's a little crazy to go around saying everyone should really learn to be an auto mechanic because cars are so essential to the functioning of our society. Should you know how to change oil? Absolutely. There are [also] basic things you should know when you use a computer. But this whole 'become an auto mechanic' thing? It's just really not for everyone." So yes coding is good but not everyone in the world needs to be a computer programmer. There are plenty of other jobs.
3 Reasons Coding Should Be a Core Subject. (2015, September 29). Retrieved June 24, 2016, from http://gettingsmart.com/2015/09/3-reasons-coding-should-be-a-core-subject/
Computers Are The Future, But Does Everyone Need To Code? (2014, January 25). Retrieved June 24, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2014/01/25/266162832/computers-are-the-future-but-does-everyone-need-to-code
Harel, I. (2016, May 25). American Schools are Teaching Our Kids How To Code All Wrong. Retrieved June 24, 2016, from http://qz.com/691614/american-schools-are-teaching-our-kids-how-to-code-all-wrong/?utm_content=buffer6e30c
Sehringer, G. (n.d.). Should We Really Try to Teach Everyone to Code? Retrieved June 24, 2016, from http://www.wired.com/insights/2015/02/should-we-really-try-to-teach-everyone-to-code/