There is feeling by teachers that teaching coding is not a valuable use of time in the classroom. As standardized tests ramp up in schools across the country, many teachers find it hard to fit coding into their curriculum beyond one houri n December. The biggest misunderstanding that seems to take place around coding is the belief that EdTech is trying to turn all students into coders. This could not be further from the truth. Here are some of the real reasons why teaching coding to students is valuable.
1. Coding supports problem-solving skills - One of the biggest things I have encountered as I learned to code as an adult was how much I depended on my problem solving skills to figure out why something was not working in my code. Coding systems will spit out errors when your type the wrong thing in the wrong place. The coder needs to find out where the problem is, why it is a problem, and how to fix it. Working through a problem toward a solution is an important skill and students need help developing it. Watching students work through their code is always interesting because you can see the wheel turn as they go line by line. This takes me to the next good reason.
2. Attention to detail - The answer to your coding problem is always in the details. I have seen students spend many minutes trying to debug their code, but will refuse to proofread their essay before submitting it to their teacher. Teaching students the value of taking their time, checking their code for errors, and making notes on anything that needs to be fixed are skills that translate to writing. ELA classroom teachers, which I was for over 15 years, have tried to get students to make proofreading a part of their writing process. It wasn't until after I left the ELA classroom that I found that coding is how I could encourage students to proofread. Proofreading skills improve with practice and proofreading code is a must if you want your code to work.
3. They might become a coder - The goal of using coding is not to make every student into a professional coder for the rest of their life. However, there are some students who might never have considered coding as a career if they had not had a taste of what it is like in the classroom. Women and women of color and not represented across the coding world and if there is going to be a move toward more equity in this world, more opportunities need to be given to students to explore coding in fun and engaging ways. Bringing coding into the classroom can start the move to bring balance to the coding workforce.
4. Basic Understanding of the world - Students will take biology, chemistry, physics, etc. and families and teachers generally do not think twice about this. We are not expecting all students to become biologist, chemists, or physicists. We want students to have a basic understanding of their world. Technology has become engrained into just about every facet of our lives. It is near impossible to go about your day without needing something that has been coded. Being able to look around and understand how things work and why they work the way they do can be helpful as you navigate your world. Asking students to explore coding to obtain this understanding is something that should no longer seem like a wild idea.
These are just a few of the reasons why bringing coding into the classroom more than just an hour a year. Building in coding as part of the curriculum will bring positive results beyond just coding knowledge. Take the time to explore coding yourself and you will see how you use your own skillset to solve problems and create code.
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