Why Teach Coding?
Teaching coding to the children is part of the latest Computing programmes of study that aspire to empower students with “computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world.” The schools are planning to accomplish this by training students in the principles of computer science and teaching them to apply this knowledge through coding or programming.
Some education experts believe that this development was long overdue; however some other experts have condemned the move and claimed that it is merely a detailed publicity stunt that aims to enhance the tech credentials of UK. No matter what, this is undoubtedly one of the biggest modifications in the curriculum since the introduction of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the year 2000.
Former Secretary of State for Education and Conservative MP Michael Gove had earlier explained the introduction of ICT in schools to be “harmful and dull”, stressing on the application and utilisation of computers mainly via Microsoft Office software.
Need for Qualified Graduates
Simon Peyton Jones, Chair of the Computing at School (CAS) and Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, said “The new computing curriculum still includes some material on the use and application of computers but now there's a major new strand which is computer science.”
He added “Computer science is the foundational subject discipline that underlies computers and computing and programming, which you should think of as a subject discipline in the same way that you think of maths or physics that will last students their whole lives and will inform them about the technology that they're using.”
Several experts predict the in the coming decade, around 1.4 million jobs will be available in computer sciences and there will be only about 400,000 qualified graduates for those positions. However, Simon Peyton Jones believes that the curriculum changes were not motivated by these shortfalls only.
The goal is to convert students to developers of technology from consumers. They will be provided with required skills and knowledge that will help our children to understand how the websites and apps they access and use work. Peyton Jones said “This is very much not vocationally driven. It's not motivated primarily by saying there's a skill shortage in this country and we need to have more people who can programme. It's motivated instead by saying: What sort of education do our children need?”
He added “We teach every child science and English, even though they're not going to become English dons or scientists. But we want them to know some science, because we want them to know something about the world that surrounds them. In the same way we want them to know some of the elementary principles of computer science.”
The previous Director of the Year of Code Initiative, Lottie Dexter thinks that coding is as important as writing, reading and arithmetic. The curriculum changes indicate that more than 160,000 primary school educators and 16,300 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) educators in secondary schools will need to catch up within a very short period of time.
Peyton Jones added “The immediate, proximate challenge is that we have 3,500 secondary schools and 17,000 primary schools, each with multiple teachers, all of whom are saying: You are asking us to do something that is entirely new. I believe that teachers see this as a good direction to move in but they feel themselves to be under-equipped and under-supported.”