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The Roc Search Blog

Teaching our children to code, does it work at work?

02 August 2017

Have you heard of “Dash and Dot”? Dash & Dot are real robots that teach your kids to code while they play. Check out this video to see Dash and Dot come to life and to experience the amazing things they do, based on coding instructions from the child that plays with it.

It brings us back to every parent’s dilemma when raising their children: Should my child play outside, or should they be behind a computer screen? Many articles have been written about this topic. The “Ayes” say kids learn to multi-task and think in a more structured manner. The “Nays” say children are becoming over reliant on technology and becoming lazy.

But the reality is that children grow up as “Digital Natives” and their brains are "wired" differently than the brains of their parents (Prensky 2001). They are more creative and more social, they fear failure less and they are more likely to be actively involved.

So it’s no surprise to see that children’s affinity with technology is taken into the classroom. In 2014, England was the first country in the world to mandate teaching coding to children at primary and secondary schools. Coding is becoming the most in-demand job skill across industries. Many jobs have a digital element, and it is predicted that within 20 years 90% of all jobs in the UK will require some element of digital skills. Effective digital skills provision is essential to ensure the workforce is prepared for this and future technological changes.

Besides preparing kids for the job market, there are many other benefits they will get from learning to code. Here are just a few of them:

- It helps children to be articulate and think logically: when they start breaking down what’s happening, they can start predicting what’s going to happen.

- When you learn to code, you are thinking about thinking. About how thinking works. You have to try to imagine how this computer is going to do something for you. There are lots of transferable skills.

- It helps children develop their problem solving skills. The basic idea of computing is you have to get a computer to solve a problem: you have to come up with an algorithm, a set of instructions. If you can do that, it’s a hugely valuable skill whenever you’re working as a team for any kind of project.

So what else is the UK doing in this area? There are now over 5,000 Code Clubs, using volunteers and top quality online material to give young people the opportunity to learn how to code. The National College for Digital Skills, will train 5,000 students over the next five years for a wide range of digital careers, such as software and database developers, user experience designers and tech entrepreneurs.

“What’s going on in the UK is unprecedented. It hasn’t happened in any other G8 or major economy: forcing an entire country to learn programming,” says Zach Sims, Codecademy chief executive. “The results will be pretty extraordinary. You’ll solve a couple of problems pretty much immediately: the IT skills gap and, hopefully, the gender gap in technology. And hopefully, you’ll raise a more digitally literate generation.”

Despite the possible negative effects on kids spending too much time behind the computer, his final words capture the essence of it all. It’s about preparing our children for the future, regardless their background, regardless their gender. Delivering equal opportunities to all.

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