Thoughts on Three to Five Year Old Children Learning How to Code: *Silicon Valley Cultural Shenanigans*?
The above graphic is from a blog which supports using technology in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. From Teaching Kids to Code: Preschool and Kindergarten:
This is part of the push to make children (beginning at age 3) to be globally competitive. It doesn’t matter that what a 3 year may learn will be obsolete by the time that youngster graduates from high school, it’s a STEM path. Mark that coding ability on his/her data set and the school might earn one more point toward accreditation. What could go wrong?
Plenty can go wrong, according to Please don’t learn to code in techcrunch.com:
There’s an idea that’s been gaining ground in the tech community lately: Everyone should learn to code. But here’s the problem with that idea: Coding is not the new literacy.
If you regularly pay attention to the cultural shenanigans of Silicon Valley, you’ve no doubt heard of the “Learn to Code” movement. Politicians, nonprofit organizations like Code.org and even former Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City have evangelized what they view as a necessary skill for tomorrow’s workforce.
There may be some truth to that, especially since the United States’ need for engineers shows no sign of slowing down.
But the picture is more complicated.
We live in an ultra-competitive world, with people turning to all sorts of methods to make ends meet. Selling coding as a ticket to economic salvation for the masses is dishonest.
Would education reform be adopted and implemented so app developers and companies pushing the need for their technology in classrooms can make money from taxpayers via mandated reforms? What? Hmm. What a great gig if you can get it, right? It’s the Wild West of Education and the Common Core Gold Rush. The techcrunch article continues:
Take coding bootcamps. Since the mainstream learned of the success of Silicon Valley software engineers, everyone wants to own a startup or become an engineer. HBO’s Silicon Valley paints a picture of late twenty-somethings spending their nights coding and smoking weed, all whilst making millions of dollars. The American public is amazed by figures like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who make millions seemingly overnight. Coding fever has even reached the steps of the White House, with President Obama pushing for legislation to include computer science in every public-school curriculum.
Read the entire article by Basel Farag, who should know a thing or two about coding, as coding/engineering is his profession, vs a teacher pushing the newest and ‘coolest’ education reform idea which has no research/data to determine its validity. He writes:
If becoming an engineer is what you want, don’t let me — or anyone, for that matter — get in the way of your goal. And don’t let traditional confinements like the educational system slow you down. There are no correct or incorrect ways to go about achieving your goals. (MEW note: So CCSS is not the magic pill?)
But don’t lose sight of reality while being charmed by our culture’s Silicon Valley romance. This field is not a get-out-of-debt-free card. You have to take the time to build your understanding of the field. You have to become comfortable with the fact that you are a problem-solver and not simply a “fill-in-framework-here” developer. You also must get used to the idea that at any moment you might need to learn a new framework or language, and that you will have to fight for a job if you don’t have formalized credentials.
Here are some tongue in cheek twitter reactions to the techcrunch article:
Parents and taxpayers: have you heard enough about Silicon Valley shenanigans and educational reform that is creating budget deficits in your district? Why are young children expected to learn coding even before they can read? Do these children really need technology at this early age to become literate and workforce ready? Can you even believe education reformers, bureaucrats, teachers and administrators are expecting preschoolers and kindergartners to learn a skill that may very well be obsolete within a few years? What’s wrong with the adults who are supporting this idea?