The ability to do computer coding has become one of the big three...ok, make that the big four, goals of education: those are reading, writing, arithmetic and now computer coding. It appears that the nation that fails to educate its young in any one of these four will find itself severely disadvantaged in securing employment for them in the future. A development that quickly leads from mere unemployment to a falling standard of living and finally social unrest. The world is replete with national examples of this phenomenon.
The first three goals, the ability to read, write and avoid being short-changed have been universally met--in this country at least--for several centuries; the fourth, a knowledge of computer coding is--no matter what the ancients say--something new under the sun. I was able to survive without knowing anything about it until I was well into middle-age, but my children have always been aware of it and my grandchildren, still in elementary school, are already putting it to use.
One code-learning advantage leading to their acceptance and understanding that my grandchildren have that I and their parents didn’t have is The Hour of Code Initiative. Begun last year, 2013, by Code.Org, a non-profit organization, The Hour of Code bills itself as “a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.” On its website it claims The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 30 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104. It is supported by many organizations such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the College Board and as of this post, it states that 92,871,946 individuals have tried the Hour of Code--a lot of peoples grandkids among them!
The first of several available tutorials stars Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. They, along with Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg (who stay out of the way) help kids get interested and get going. There’s also an hour for kids who want to start coding their own games!
Hour of Code is available for use at home but many school systems are also enthusiastic about teaching code. Take for instance public schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Florida. There’s already a NAO robot named Cody who is being programed to speak, walk, wave, and do Tai-Chi moves (which puts them one up on me!). The school principal believes that coding should become a required subject and says that “"It's allowing our boys and girls to have this wonderful opportunity to expand their horizons, to think creatively...Coding helps them to better understand reading, mathematics, science, so it's a collaboration of all subjects, doing something that they enjoy."
At home or at school. It doesn’t matter where we learn it, but learn coding we must if we are going to stay competitive on the world scene. And with easily accessible and user-friendly sites like Code.Org there is simply no excuse--for us or our progency---not learning or becoming proficient in coding.