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Coding: The New Secret Language of the Next Generation

Look alive parents, if you’re a millennial or older, there’s a strong possibility your kids are already smarter than you. Okay, perhaps that’s a bit alarming, but minimally your children may have access to more advanced education than you ever received. No, I’m not talking about common core mathematics; what the heck is up with common core mathematics, anyway? What ever happened to learning to add and subtract like a normal person without having to draw some kind of strange bar graph thing? … but I digress.

What I’m talking about is that in curricula across the country, the three ‘R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) are being taught in conjunction with a fourth critical life skill in our modern culture: computer science. Now I’m not just talking about introductory keyboarding classes like many of us had growing up. kids today are actually learning coding starting as young as elementary school. It’s not far fetched to say that some elementary school students can write code more advanced than that of ‘Pong’, the hit 1970s video game for Atari. However, there’s no need to be alarmed about this shift in academic focus. In fact, schools with the forethought to incorporate this useful subject into the curriculum could very well prepare their students for a more successful future.

Here is a brief summary of what youngsters across the USA are learning in school, and some of the positives that could come from that.

Programs have been developed that effectively teach basic coding to kids as young as first grade
The MIT-developed ‘Scratch’ program is an interactive tool to help novice users navigate and understand code through increasingly advanced lessons. The spin-off app, Scratch Jr, helps kids as young as Kindergarten begin to understand code in a simple, drag-and-drop format. “Users can snap together colorful blocks on the screen to make their own programs that can do complex tasks” explains one article. As their education progresses through the years, many programs (Tynker, Hopscotch, Blocky, Twine) exist to help students advance their skills from easier block-style coding, to more complex word-based coding that empowers students to write their own programs, apps and more.

The reality is, they’re going to need this education in their future career
Engaging with computers is about as much of an option in 2019 as engaging a light bulb was by the mid-1900s. They’re all around constantly, and as our society increasingly immerses itself in computer-driven culture, it’s very important for young people coming up to embrace and understand this technology. Already, automation and robotics are taking an increasingly central stage in many forms of industry. These machines are powered by code. Engineering, architecture, graphic design and other specialized industries are all transitioning toward more specialized platforms that require an advanced understanding of the language of computers as well. The more knowledge kids have coming out of school, the better positioned they’ll ultimately be to thrive.

Computer science and code will no longer be a language known to few
As strange as it sounds, we’re still in the infant stages of the digital age. As a result, coding and the language of computers are still understood by relatively few, though they’re important to almost everyone. This new educational initiative to indoctrinate our children into the complexities of computers and coding ensures an a more evenly distributed understanding of these essential tools and their full capabilities in the future.

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