First of all, this blog post represents my personal opinion and views of the future world. And from the future world’s point of view, there is one problem with coding in schools…
The good intention
It’s obvious that coding is coming to schools strongly in different countries around the globe and there is a reason for it. We strongly believe that coding is something future adults will need in their future careers, and teaching that in school is a rational thing to do, right?
The inevitable problem
I see a problem here, which starts from that the teachers are often not too familiar with programming. And, if you think it the other way round, the experienced programmers are not familiar with teaching.
When programming is introduced to schools in such a massive way, it’s clear that teachers haven’t had time to really dive into that subject. Don’t get me wrong; some of them are. But can you really expect older teachers to use hours of their free time to study the world of programming with absolutely 0 pay for their time? No you can’t and that’s totally understandable. Now, what will happen then?
Due to the lack of time, we can reason that teachers rely widely on available resources like code.org. But this setting also means that programming becomes more like: Question → The one and only solution. Students will start to think that there are only certain, standard ways to solve the problems and get stuck to elements of some programming language they happen to use. All this can lead to programming transforming from something very creative to a factory job.
In the ideal world, after learning basics, students would start to design their own programs, something they find interesting. But if the teacher is not really familiar with the subject, it’s hard to support that. I admit that this may still be possible in simple training environments such as Scratch, but you can’t stay with these simple environments forever.
Here is the personal confession of this post: I have studied computer science alongside mathematics in university and made some projects along the years. I’m sometimes embarrassed how little I know. So many programming languages and so many libraries in those languages that I happen to know. Many of those languages could be justified to be teached for young people. There is an enormous difference with my other subject, maths: Students can’t ask me a math question that I couldn’t answer. But with coding, there is so much I can’t answer right away.
Uncreative coding will be useless in the future
And what is the problem if we teach people to program like robots? The answer is that they will be replaced with robots. So studying only the basics of programming won’t pay off. And what about the motivational effect? We really can’t say. It’s likely that some students will get carried towards coding and others from it.
We have to make sure that programming will stay as creative job as it is at its best. That is done by making sure that students have specialized teachers on their reach and maybe revisiting the ways we want to introduce coding in schools. What is the right age to introduce coding to the whole age group? Can we utilize clubs if younger students are eager to learn? Is it possible that students could define their own problems they want to solve via programming? I’m leaving these questions here open.