Encouraging Kids To Code Is Not Enough

Encouraging Kids To Code Is Not Enough

There is this new surge of effort going on to make Computer Programming a more popular choice for kids instead of the default ones that are out there (doctor, lawyer, police officer).  Part of the reason for this push seems to be our society’s rush to embrace tech, but the technicians (we nerdy, builder types) remaining a relative mystery to the world. This makes the philosophers of our time worried that little baby Steve Huffman’s are missing out on their programming goals due to being ignorant of the fact that there is no magical hamster inside of their computers.

“If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans like you to master the tools and technology that will change how we do just about everything”
– President Barack Obama

Now we have presidential backed efforts to put Computer Science into school. Issue out an “hour of code”, and let little Junior know that in our Intelligence Age, a girl or boy should strive to be the next Mark Zuckerberg rather than another golfing MD, teaching PhD or ambulance-chasing lawyer-type.

The Information Technology world is not one that rewards the mediocre.

Sure you can find a cushy state job and suckle on the Corporate teet for benefits as your career in computers, but to truly be one of the builders of the future, there has to be a hunger there to create and improve in an open source market. I love that children are being made to look at the little people behind their phone apps, video games, and Instagram accounts, but I wonder if this effort will yield an age of bad, mediocre programmers that only got into it because their dads told them to?

“I wonder if they are selling the kids on an illusion”

I want us to combine efforts, like introducing kids to Computer Programming with lessons in improving upon badly built models, developing answers to problems that people are stumbling over, and improving one’s craft for the love, over the love of money. Those are some of the things that make a Computer Programmer successful. It isn’t enough to just show up knowing some code while holding a degree for putting in the time.

Many of you will argue that my assertions apply to any job but it isn’t true. Many of the more popular jobs that we hear kids echo when asked “what do you want to be when you grow up” are jobs that offer up similar salaries for the ambitious and the ones who settle. To think that Information Technology is the same is to set yourself up for a very rude awakening. Many of the more successful giants in tech were not even College educated bourgeois with certificates and Greek letters in tow. Many were just passionate kids who wanted to see something, didn’t see it out there, so they decided to build it. Some others just knew enough to improve greatly on a construct that was already out there… Social Media did not start with Facebook.

So when I see a push for a field that I have learned to love and embrace for its vicious competitiveness, I wonder if they are selling the kids on an illusion. Do they know, like I know, that they will be in competition with really passionate people who “code” as easily as they draw breath? Do they show these kids that “coding” goes beyond knowing a few languages and doing what the boss instructs them to? I am not so optimistic.

When I was young, the people who coded were the nerds who loved their computers so much that playing the games was not enough… they wanted to know what made it tick. This has always made it a labour of love that could yield astronomical figures. With a push for any kid to a program, I cannot imagine that the level of interest for programming will be the same as it was when only those who sought to know… learned.

Thank you for reading this article on Encouraging Kids To Code Is Not Enough. It was originally written by Gr3g Dr4g0n. Share your toughts in the comments below.

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