Historically, ICT lessons in school have largely missed the point and have only equipped children with the main points of how to use computers, setting them up moreso for jobs which require sitting in front of a computer and using it, instead of teaching them how the computers they use work and how they can have an impact on that. Impact is the operative word. Technological advances have made a huge impact on our world and thus, have changed it, creating a larger need for programmers and coders. If our ever advancing technology fails us, we need an army of people available who can fix it, and most importantly, can make an impact and spearhead the future advances.
Computer science and coding need to be integrated more into schools to allow for a more fluid and blended approach to learning which can be of benefit whilst also familiarising children with technology and concepts which are becoming such a big part of everyone’s lives. Slowly but surely, many are starting to realise these cross-curricular benefits of integration. Retention and progress are key, and as using coding ticks all of the boxes for progress and better learning, it is even more vital that children in primary schools get to grips with it from the earliest possible stage.
The overarching reasons why children should be taught coding are endless, but the boost in attention, the transferable skills that coding teaches and the understanding it provides of and for the future are three of the most important and valuable for students, teachers, and parents alike.
Traditional academics can prove tedious for younger children meaning for lowered levels of attention and retention in class. Coding classes can help to break up the perceived monotony of the school day; coding is a new and exciting subject for younger children and most importantly, it is a subject which is relevant to them. Children use computers, laptops and games consoles on a regular basis and bringing in lessons and clubs relevant to them and the things they love will result in more engagement and attention on their part. Furthermore, coding lessons provide a fun and exciting interlude from the familiarity of the remainder of the school day. A lesson teaching children how and why their iPad works, and how they can create something similar to it, or be at the forefront of future advances in that technology when they grow up gets children excited, boosting their attention and interest which can spill over to boost attention in other lessons.
Much like learning a language, coding requires children and adults alike to think differently, and look at things from different angles in order to overcome obstacles and solve problems. In any professional or academic field, being able to think logically, or to think ‘outside of the box’, is an invaluable skill. If children are taught to code in primary school, they are being equipped with the tools for success in both their academic and professional careers; anything taught from a young age can become second nature with practice and repetition. Coding is the perfect subject to marry invaluable skills with invaluable knowledge. As there are so many areas and issues under the wide umbrella that is coding, creative thinking and logical thinking are necessary for success. The skills that children gain from being junior coders can be applied to the rest of their subjects, from making them better problem solvers, to them being innovators of imagination.
In 2016, Google for education released data stating that 84% of parents of primary school children knew that coding would be useful and important for their children to learn but only three in ten of those parents would be willing to bring the idea up to their children’s schools. If nothing else, a significant point from this data is that parents know their children should be coding, and they want them to be. Aside from being a fun release and an opportunity to develop useful skills, coding itself is one of the most vital skills children will need for their futures. It is estimated that in the next decade there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science but only around 400,000 graduates qualified and available to do them. By teaching children coding now, they are being given the best chance they can have for success as they grow with the technologically driven world around them instead of being left behind by it. The younger they are when they start learning to code, the more scope they have for advancing and succeeding as the thought patterns and knowledge become a part of their personal psyche, instead of being only a part of the zeitgeist. Even if children do not want to be coders, coding gives them a solid foundation made up of knowledge and skills to set them up for secondary school and beyond.