Throughout my time in the corporate environment of the multi-national company I worked in, there was one thing that always struck me.
While working with so many people, all similarly qualified, there were always some who stood out. These were the “go-to” people. These folks could always see the big picture, would know how to approach a problem systematically, break it into logical parts, work through each, and deal with problems along the way.
I always thought these skills added value to their formal education, making them good professionals. And I think its a virtue, no matter what the field.
Having been a computer programmer for a decade, I sometimes think about what my work in turn, has taught me. Computer programming is based on logic and building solutions in a structured way, to solve the problem at hand, or to achieve the desired effect. Writing such computer programs day-in and day out, slowly built in me a systematic and logical thought process. It has now become my way of thinking for everything I do, and not just work.
I found the result most interesting. Computer Programming– a skill that is mostly perceived as a technical and industry specific one– actually helped me build a thought process that is valuable to every field!
Then why not use programming as a tool to inculcate these skills in children, while they are in school?
It complements all the other education that they receive, and build a thought process at an early age, that will be useful to them, no matter what they grow up to be.
School children are already adept at using technology, since they have been exposed to gadgets from an early age, far earlier than the adults of today. Regardless of the debate about how much exposure is good for them, the truth is that the children of today are growing up in a world where they are surrounded by technology, and they will need to learn appropriate tools, no matter what they grow up to be.
Then shouldn’t technology then made a part of education in a way that not just teaches them to use it, but to create useful and interesting things using it?
Interested, I looked around, and found that smarter people (like those at MIT’s Media Lab) had already stumbled upon this. Convinced about the merits of computer programming, they developed the Scratch programming language. It changed the look and feel of traditional programming languages to a more appealing visual one, where one can drag and drop the commands to create a program. It can be used to create animations, music videos, games and much more.
The numbers alone are enough to convince anyone about its popularity – more than 6 million projects have been uploaded on the Scratch community by children around the world! Major universities and corporations around the world have long followed suite with Google Blockly, Berkeley’s Snap, Lego Education’s programmable robots, and more. Movements like Code.org’s Hour of Code encourages everyone to try their hand at computer programming, no matter what their field is – education, entertainment, politics or sports.
So here we are, ready to teach children how to code, and I can’t wait to be a child again, because I missed my chance to learn programming in school!