Schools SHOULD Teach Code

I’m not that old. Coming up on 27 this year. I live in Sweden, a country with a high density of IT. But before I started University I had never had a lesson in how to wield a computer (if I exclude that one where we were taught how to open Word). Not one lesson. I’ve spent hours upon hours learning how to sew, play music, speak french and calculate unit mass. And those lessons were important. Still, not more than 4 hours during my 12 years in school were dedicated towards computer science and programming. I was curious so I learned on my own.

But most people around me have no idea how computers work. They are almost magical in the same way electricity and the digestive system is magical before you get it explained. We get taught biology and physics in school, but most of us never got the privilege to learn about code, and that is kind of a digrace. What’s more, it is still not taught in most schools. We are relying on kids getting interested and learning on their own. Not a great plan for an economy reliant on IT.

Everyone should have the opportunity to understand that computers and code are not magical, it should be demystified. They should know that everyone can have a go and create something simple. This is why I get excited about initiatives like Code.org, Khan Academy and Udacity.

What I don’t understand is that so many (including Robert Smith) confuse ”schools should teach code” and ”everyone can try” to mean the same thing as saying ”everyone should be a programmer”. Most will not. Many will find it boring, like I hated french and geography. Many will never use it in their daily work or life, like how I seldom use my knowledge of electron guns. Many will suck at it, like I sucked at volley ball. But they need to know about it. How else can we expect to find those most suited for it, those that will do great things? And think of the possibilities when a large number of people can automate boring tasks with simple scripts.

I meet too many individuals that are completely computer illiterate. And many of them are younger than me. We need to raise the knowledge level. So I believe yes, programming IS for everyone. Definitely not as professionals, but they should know the basics. It’s important.