Coding is all about trying to get a computer to execute some task. A programming language is used and a line of code will tell a computer to accomplish something. A whole document of lines of code is called a script. A script will be all about carrying out an entire job. People can make a great living writing code for a living. In a world with continually emerging technology, a good coder is worth his or her weight in gold.
Because of this, it may surprise you, but coding is being taught to kids at an earlier and earlier age. In fact, there are teenagers already out there earning big bucks with their coding skills. They are both self-taught and also learning to code in school. By the time they graduate from high school, they possess a set of skills in the tech world that could keep them employed the rest of their lives. Not too shabby to know you can make a good living from something you learned while still a kid.
Just How Early Can You Teach Kids Coding?
This is really a trick question, isn’t it? It all depends on the kid. After all, some kids are ready to do algebra at eight years old and others aren’t ever ready. However, if you are talking about in general terms, then perhaps middle school would be ideal. Coding requires knowledge about math, science, and technology. Middle school students are mostly ready to keep an open mind and learn about these concepts that deal with coding. Still, there could be primary students ready to get their feet wet as well.
It would be a good idea to introduce coding to primary students in simple ways here and there just to help them develop an interest in it. Then by middle school and junior high, they can explore how much more they want to learn about it and how far they want to go with it. But the real problem is not when coding should be introduced in schools. It is about who can teach the students adequately on this topic.
How Many Teachers Are Coders to Begin with?
During a quick and informal survey in my school district, I asked a room full of teachers that worked with students from preschool to eighth grade if any of them knew how to code. This is a staff that is comprised of a good mixture of veteran to young educators. Not one of them raised their hand to indicate they knew how to code. Some of them openly laughed and shook their heads no. I was approached later on by our tech guy that troubleshoots problems throughout the day. He said he knew how to code adequately but did not have a teaching certificate to work with students.
I believe the issue for many school districts would be that they would struggle to find a teacher that is able to code in the first place. After all, if you are an expert coder that can make serious money with your skills, there is a good chance that you wouldn’t be teaching any longer. Everyone knows that schools are constantly strapped for money and under-financed. It would be difficult for most districts to open up their pocketbooks and spend extra money on bringing in a professional coder to help the students. On the other hand, maybe they could prey on others’ kindness and perhaps attain a few volunteers that would like to give back to the students by showing them how to code.
If you would like to hear how a few teenage coders got their start, this article on the Guardian is pretty interesting. Most state that their school had nothing to do with them learning how to code in the first place. Instead, they took it upon themselves to develop their coding skills in other ways.
Use Technology to Teach Technology
Perhaps we don’t have to rely so much on teachers to educate students about coding in the first place. Instead, we can use technology to teach technology to these kids. There are numerous websites and apps that can introduce coding to kids of all ages. This means the children can learn how to code while in or out of school. Many of these apps and websites are entirely free to use as well (which fits perfectly into a school’s budget). The tech industry is one that will continue to grow, so knowing how to do things like coding could mean a huge difference for these children as they enter into adulthood in the future.