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What is the value of teaching Coding to our young students?

The value of learning coding skills - TeacherCast Guest Blog

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills are an important part of our world's ongoing development, and we need all our young people to start gaining basic skills in these areas to be a well-prepared addition to the workforce. With the all-encompassing role of technology in our everyday lives, these skills are extremely relevant, and even those who will not be pursuing a career in a STEM field should consider at least dipping their toes into these skill sets. Coding is a skill that anyone can learn, and it's a huge part of many different career paths. Knowing basic coding skills will be essential in the future, and teaching kids to code in the classroom can make a huge difference in their cognitive abilities and future opportunities. But why?

Why Teach Coding?

Students learning to code in the classroom comes with so many benefits—both for their cognitive advancement and in practical application for future projects and careers. Edutopoia expands on this, and notes that learning code in the classroom helps students develop problem-solving and analytical reasoning skills that will help them succeed in anything they do. Learning to code also helps children construct, analyze, and learn on their own, all skills that will be necessary for the workplace, and in higher education. Because code touches nearly everything we do in modern life, knowing how to code is a type of literacy that every student should learn. Coding also promotes equality in the classroom by providing opportunities for low income and disabled students to succeed.

Coding in the Real World

Just last month, the CEO of General Electric announced that all new hires would be required to know how to code. This was a bold move, but signals a change in the way even established companies view their place in the digital age. In Immelt's own words:

“It doesn’t matter whether you are in sales, finance or operations. You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code. We are also changing the plumbing inside the company to connect everyone and make the culture change possible. This is existential and we’re committed to this.”

The vast majority of industries have a need for people who know how to code, such as in the telecommunications field, which has opportunities for creating apps for mobile phones. 97% of U.S. households have a mobile phone, and the capabilities of these phones continue to expand, requiring more talent in the workforce that has coding skills to develop these devices and software.

In the future, other industries will become increasingly dependent on computer-based systems. Ohio University uses the example of water parks to show how computer engineers are transforming our economy. Water parks need computer engineers to calculate mass, friction, and other physics principles to design safe and entertaining rides. These jobs can be lucrative, and budgets for building and maintaining rides are huge—Ohio University notes that the Texas Giant ride overhaul cost a staggering $10 million to complete.

How to Integrate Coding Into the Classroom

Because more people are beginning to realize the importance of coding, there are more resources available all the time to teachers who want to introduce the subject to their students. Hour of Code is a great place to start—it's a workshop for students that teaches the basics of coding and gets them interested in learning more. Hour of Code breaks down traditional barriers and makes coding accessible to everyone. On their website, Hour of Code provides resources for teacher and student-led sessions.

Besides Hour of Code, there are many different ways for teachers to integrate coding curriculum into the classroom. Setting up a volunteer guest speaker, using an online course to teach students, and bringing in videos and tools for different learning styles are all great ways to get started.

Many children will be interested in the idea of coding without much encouragement, but others will need a bit more motivation to take the initiative and make an effort. In fact, teachers can use pop culture and sci-fi to inspire students. Just like any other subject, coding can be fun with a little creativity, and students will be better prepared to take on the world and fuel their own dreams.

What do you think?

We are interested in learning your thoughts about coding in the classroom. Please take a moment and share your thoughts in our comments section below.

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. When she's not watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

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