‘Everybody must get stoned’, Bob Dylan warbled to a 1960s generation who wanted to ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’. Fast forward two generations and the mantra chanted by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Clinton and even Ashton Kutcher is ‘everybody must learn code.’
Celebrity testimonials promote code to the masses on YouTube and Code.org, — a code-learning and code-teaching site.
The push to learn code is two-fold. First, the numbers aren’t adding up. Technologically innovative societies are impossible to maintain without skilled software engineers so it’s possible to avert a crisis by encouraging everyone (especially youth) to see coding as a fun and useful skill for 21st century employment.
Second, by teaching children how to code they learn logic and the importance of syntax. Correct programming sequences include the use of case sensitive keystrokes, accurate punctuation and constant repetition, all of which reinforce literacy and numeracy skills.
An alternative solution
However, I’d like to propose an alternative solution to ensure we have enough software engineers without burdening our already overcrowded school curriculum with code-classes. Bill Gates and Co. might consider brain plasticity, a field of neuroscience that says our brains can learn new tricks at any age.
It looks like you can train anyone — children, adolescents, the middle-aged or senior citizens (depending on interest and aptitude) — to create games, apps and new devices. Indeed, music celebrity will.i.am, a popular member of the Black Eyed Peas, has endorsed this idea by offering his newfound programming repertoire as an example of adult learning (you can read his testimonial on code.org).
To rephrase Bob Dylan, ‘Everybody, including midlifers and octogenarians, must learn code.’
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