Computers and the software they run are not magic. Nor should they be perceived as such.
Learning to code is not valuable because everyone needs to program computers, but because such an integral part of modern life needs to be understood at a basic, comprehensible level.
Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.
In terms of cognitive advantages, learning a system of signs, symbols and rules used to communicate — that is, language study — improves thinking by challenging the brain to recognize, negotiate meaning and master different language patterns. Coding does the same thing. Students who speak English and Mandarin are better multitaskers because they’re used to switching between language structures. Coding, likewise, involves understanding and working within structures.
Foreign language instruction today emphasizes practical communication — what students can do with the language. Similarly, coding is practical, empowering and critical to the daily life of everyone living in the 21st century.
Coding is Ubiquitous
Programming is the global language, more common than spoken languages like English, Chinese or Spanish.
Washington state andKentuckyhave both proposed legislation that mirrors this trend, with Washington asking that students be allowed to count two years of computer science courses as two years of foreign language studies.
In an October post, Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss wrote that coding is something like “cursive 2.0” — a practice that will soon become compulsory in schools across the nation.