I had a fairly nice time this week trying to be a bit contrary and take on the predictable perspective that Coding should be taught in schools. I had a few enjoyable exchanges with students in the class on our differing viewpoints. Even a computer programmer who was invited to comment on our blogs offered some great perspectives from someone in the industry. Of course, I do think we should offer coding in schools and I DO see the value of coding. However, the more we discussed the issue the less convinced I am that coding will find a regular home in our schools.
First of all, to offer coding in schools means that you need people qualified to teach coding. I don’t see our schools being able to provide this at any advanced level considering the industry-wide shortage of coders. Second, schools are so hampered by standardized tests that administrators are under considerable pressure to perform. While the benefits to coding are apparent to me, and many other researchers (Pea, “On The Cognitive Effects Of Learning Computer Programming”), it will take a bold gamble that time spent coding and not working on other subject areas will improve test scores. If you liberate schools from high-stakes tests and the pressure that ensues, I think you would find a huge improvement by using coding, maker spaces, etc. Finally, I think the time spent coding is valuable but I feel it is too specific of a skill to focus on. I’m more interested in broad technology-based integrations that focus on creativity, critical thinking skills and collaboration. This last point was debated thoroughly by my peers. I’m not sure I convinced anybody to my point of view. I understand coding is at the foundation of technology and that creativity and critical thinking skills are utilized through coding. I just think that every public school student doesn’t need to learn to code.
I would be excited to see coding offered in every high school as an elective. I would be excited about funding after-school coding clubs in elementary schools as well. I definitely agree that coding should be a part of any school’s computer science program. I was excited about the discussion involving universities substituting coding for foreign language credit. This allows schools to provide a very necessary skill for students who are driven to learn in. In the end, this was a very good week of learning for me. I have learned about the educational applications of coding and am excited to see more coding emerge in schools throughout the United States.
Pea, R., & Kurland, D. (1984). ON THE COGNITIVE EFFECTS OF LEARNING COMPUTER PROGRAMMING. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://www.tcnj.edu/~ijims/previous/Readings/Week1/Cog_Effects_Prog.pdf