How do I see coding?

Coding is what you should learn, no matter how old you are!  That sounds like the message I have got from the video, especially from this post.

If you learn this skill and you’re actually good at it, you might get a really awesome job. The Atlantic points out that, according to the Department of Labor and Statistics, coding is a sector that’ll grow 30 percent faster on average than other industries, and had a median salary of $90,000/year in 2010. Sure, Code.org will teach you to do that for free. Although, not everyone needs to code and not everyone can be good enough at it to you know, write the next Facebook. But look, Chris Bosh loves to write CSS. That’s enough to make your day. [The Atlantic]

I have watched the video, and left with “mixed” views and feelings.  Learning how to code would get you a decent job, and that coding as a sector would grow faster than other industries.  Is that really the point?

Both Benjamin and Kirsten have got their points.  Benjamin asserts that we should be thinking more positively. Kirsten argues that just knowing how to code won’t get kids anywhere.

To me: the whole video is sending a message of: “we don’t need no education”, though all the famous people mentioned in the video started with some forms of coding, but not really about acquiring those “skills” through their formal education.  Why would such skills be needed so desperately in formal education?  Are these coding skills self-learnt as Mark and Bill had done?

I would ask: What is the purpose of this video? Who would it be for? Why promoting coding for kids? Is coding really relating to the success of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg etc.?

First the title of the video is: What most schools don’t teach?  Why?  Who decides on the school curriculum?  What is to be taught, and what is not?

For those people who would like to imitate Steve, Bill and Mark, yes, learning by yourself, without finishing formal education may be what you aspire to.  The only question is: Do you think you need an opportunity and a bit of “luck” to be like them?

I remember learning computer programming throughout my early studies, and career, but does coding make a difference?  May be, not much, if I am not creating a social media or computer business.  Where would success be coming from?

The real success came not from mere knowing how to code, though Mark admitted that coding was about helping a friend, or doing something that would be done using computer, and it was fun.

Success for these famous people came from being able to seize an opportunity, based on one’s skills and perseverance, and an entrepreneurial spirit and drive to create and maintain a business, together with getting the “best” people, engineers, etc. to work with and for them. 

How would I interpret the video message?

Learn something like coding, as it could be fun, especially for our school children, who are curious to learn.

Through such coding activity, they may rekindle their interests in learning.  We all noted that children like to play games.

Teaching children how to code might help them to acquire learning habits, especially when they are young.  When they grow older, they could decide if that would help them in getting their dream jobs, this is especially important in face of an unknown future world, with rapidly changing technology, and even the coding itself might have changed significantly that some of them might be replaced by new forms of language in the near future.

Would these sorts of videos help children or adults to take up more opportunities to learn about coding?  Yes, if coding leads to better job opportunities, especially for those who are un-employed, or those who are interested in computer technology, or technology in social media or education, AI etc.

May be another question is: What do the children want?  Games? Or learning to code, in order to create games?

If children are to learn more about games, or play games, then coding may help, but it is not necessary to “teach” children how to code, as they would learn them through self-teaching, through the internet, or by peer-learning and sharing over networks.

There are a lot of questions and challenges relating to posting videos of famous people, in promoting a certain set of values, that may not be that clear for the public.

There are also economics involved in each promotion: the supply and demand of certain skills for different people.

Why are we always seeing different comments or critics on videos on promotion? One of the reasons may be due to our difficulty in understanding the motive behind any “promotion of education” video.

This is why there are always “hype” and “myths”, or even memes around education, learning nowadays.

There are critics based on critical analysis, whilst there are also remarks which may be due to doubts and uncomfortable feelings with the video message.  There are even “political” views on such promotion of coding, or the promotion of the people themselves – with some praises, and negative comments, that may be due to complicated reasons.

To what extent would you believe that coding would make you a “better” learned person?

I would leave them to you to judge.

2 thoughts on “How do I see coding?

  1. “To me: the whole video is sending a message of: we don’t need no education…”

    If the video were titled, “What most schools don’t teach”, and that was it, one might interpret this as either meaning schools are not teaching what they should be teaching, or that there are certain things that can’t be taught in schools. But because there is supporting evidence in the video (primarily a statistic that only 1 out of 10 schools have coding classes), I have to believe that they are suggesting that we need a better education and not that we “need no education”. If the statistic said, “10 out of 10 schools offer coding classes”, then it would be more likely that the title of the video would mean that “we don’t need no education”. But the state the problem (only 1 out of 10 schools have coding classes), and are suggesting a solution (increase the percentage of schools who offer coding classes).

    Another misinterpretation is to think that this video is about coding as an end. It’s about learning how to code as a means for students exercising problem-solving skills as well as other higher order critical thinking skills.

    I could see someone taking this video into a K-12 school, building a case for offering more coding classes in the curriculum. For that reason, I think this video is a persuasive piece advocating for a better educational system.

    “If children are to learn more about games, or play games, then coding may help, but it is not necessary to “teach” children how to code, as they would learn them through self-teaching, or by peer-learning and sharing.”

    Granted, there are many self-starting, bright kids out there who could learn code on their own. But a teacher’s role is to be prepared to take each student (not only the self-starters) from being dependent to interdependent, and in order to do this, a teacher needs to be prepared to teach didactically at times. To think that every student (K-12) will learn code with no intervention from a teacher (or any more knowledgeable other) is not realistic.

    Final point…you say, “For those people who would like to imitate Steve, Bill and Mark, yes, learning by yourself, without finishing formal education may be what you aspire to. The only question is: Do you think you need an opportunity and a bit of “luck” to be like them?”

    I’m going on the assumption (and I could be wrong) that the statistic “1 out of 10 schools…” is referring to K-12 and not higher education. Thus, the target audience for this video is for stakeholders interested in K-12. This would make sense since Steve, Bill, and Mark talk about starting young when it came to coding. Therefore, I see no reference in the video that suggests that one should not complete a formal education (either high school or higher ed.). In fact, I would say the video suggests that people can become a success by learning a skill set to solve problems, and in the process, become innovative and critical-thinking individuals through the assistance of a better educational system – a discussion well-worth having!

  2. Well said Benjamin. Yes, the video seems to promote coding in the education for the young kids in schools, though I am not too sure if 1 out of 10 schools is actually reflective of the statistics in “all schools”. This may apply to US schools, I suppose.

    “Granted, there are many self-starting, bright kids out there who could learn code on their own.” Yes, that’s why we need to ask: do we need to teach bright kids how to code, if they are going to learn on their own? If we reflect on lots of videos (on TED talks) where young talented kids gave talks, we often noted that they would prefer to learn by themselves, or by teaching others, rather than being taught. Indeed, most highly talented people are self-starters, or are intrinsically motivated, and this might be the reason why many of them succeed in their learning.

    “To think that every student (K-12) will learn code with no intervention from a teacher (or any more knowledgeable other) is not realistic.” Here I have some questions: Do teachers need to know and learn coding before “teaching” or intervening students? What percentage of teachers know how to code? I don’t see many teacher education programs having coding in their curriculum. What are the implications if teachers are required to be expertise in coding and programming, before they could teach those k-12 students?

    Coding is a means to an end, for most k-12 students, mainly because it is only one of the tools that could help students in acquiring the problem-solving skills as well as other higher order critical thinking skills, as you have stated.

    Should we consider what it means when we try to educate more students to learn about coding? Is coding for every student? Should we explain to them why they need to learn about coding?

    Why would we try to educate the “average students” in coding? Would some of these students struggle with coding? What sort of skills are we preparing them for? Information technology skills? So, it it not just coding, as it is just a tool to help us in programming, in gaming.

    For instance, we are emphasising the importance of language, numeracy and science literacy in the k-12 curriculum, together with the digital literacy, problem solving and critical thinking. What should be the focus of our education? Better education. In which areas? Coding? ICT? Critical literacy?

    I fully agree to introduce coding as part of the curriculum (and option) in Higher Education, as that would help those students in preparing their future careers. To improve k-12 education by more coding classes would be based on the premises that children are ready for coding, though not everyone would benefit from such education, as some may struggle with learning by being taught.

    I remember when I first learnt about programming (coding), there were no examination, but just practice, and indeed for an appreciation. Would this happen in k-12? Would such coding be part of the assessed curriculum with standardized testing? Is it what we should do?

    Again, we seem to have made lots of assumptions when introducing a “new subject” to the k-12 curriculum.

    It is not about whether we should teach it or not, but how we should introduce it, and when. May be why we would like to teach coding in school is still a moot point, if we just think that would solve the education problem, or improve our education.

    John

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