Coding used to be an arcane skill, a dark art reserved only for those willing to make the necessary ritual sacrifice. Today, however, they’ll let anyone learn to code who wants to. Teachers should be taking full advantage of this shift in attitudes to introduce coding into their classrooms.
There are many benefits to learning to code at a young age. Here are just five reasons we think this skill should be taught in every classroom.
It Teaches Maths
Teaching maths in a fun and exciting way is notoriously tricky. Even for teachers who themselves are passionate about maths, it’s hard to turn what is quite a dry and abstract subject into something that children will find enjoyable.
It isn’t just kids who struggle with maths sometimes. You will find plenty of people working in fields like engineering and physics, fields that demand the constant use of mathematics, who have little passion for the subject.
One of the reasons that it is hard to make maths enjoyable as a teacher is that so little of it applies to our daily lives. Sure, we all use maths regularly. However, we’ve all got used to whipping out our smartphones and typing what we need into the calculator. Now that those voice assistants are so common, we can literally just ask our smartphones when we want to work out a simple sum.
But learning to code is one of the few ways to make math and engaging and fun subject for younger learners. Numerous games are simple to code and which convey important mathematical concepts. The best example of this is probably the ‘guess the number‘ game.
This is a simple piece of code that generates a random whole number and then has the user try to guess it. The program tells the user whether their last guess was too high or too low to help them hone in on the correct answer. Even a program as simple as this will teach children about the concept of integers and how to compare values.
For teenagers and young adults, learning to code enables them to engage with more advanced mathematical concepts. Anyone studying a science or maths degree will find coding and invaluable skill to have. Once you learn to code, it is easy to create your own custom calculators and routines for automating large parts of your work.
Develop Problem-Solving Skills
Another often-cited benefit of learning to code is that it develops problem-solving skills. Coding is all about solving problems. Better still, there are almost always multiple routes that you can take to get to the correct answer.
One of the best ways of making coding and engaging subject to learn is to encourage students to develop an application that they would like to build. They can then focus on breaking down this application into its constituent parts and working out how they will code each individual piece. This exercise reveals two students just how complex even the most seemingly basic of programs can be. It is also an excellent demonstration of why coding is such an effective tool for improving problem-solving skills.
Ask any professional coder; they will tell you that a significant portion of their professional lives are spent hunting down and fixing bugs in their own code. While most compilers are nice enough to at least tell you where the issue with your code is, this is often of little help. If you want to learn to code, you’re going to have to learn to love staring intently into your screen trying to work out what you’ve missed or which line is not indented correctly. The task of identifying and fixing issues in your code is a perfect example of the kind of problem-solving that is routine for coders.
One reason that coding is so enjoyable for many teachers to teach is that there are many free resources available online. Many of these high-quality resources enable students and enthusiastic adult learners to pick up coding with minimal effort.
To people of a certain age, coding, and computers more generally, seem like some kind of black magic. Many people assume that learning to code is just as difficult as learning how a car engine works. However, while coding can be complicated, it is actually much simpler than most people realize.
You don’t need any special equipment to start learning to code. Anyone with the interest and a computer can get going with it. You will find tutorials freely available online that take you through everything from the most basic coding fundamentals, right up to the skills that you need to work on advanced 3D applications.
Regardless of the level you teach at or the age and capability of your students, there will be resources available to suit any kind of learner. As well as General tutorials, you will also find plenty of more specialized learning tools. For example, Convert Binary’s online tool enables you to convert binary to decimal easily. As well as converting numbers between decimal and binary, Convert Binary also enables users to convert text into binary. Whether you are coding for fun or learning formally, this is a useful tool to have bookmarked.
Broaden Their Horizons
Computers are all around us today. It might be stating the obvious, but the ubiquity of computers in the modern world is something that no one could have predicted just a few decades ago. Given the prominent role that computers play in just about every aspect of modern life, it is hardly surprising that there is such a demand for capable coders. Being a qualified and experienced coder means that you can pretty much choose whatever industry you want when you start looking for jobs.
Coders are needed everywhere. And we really do mean everywhere.
We have already touched upon a few of the additional skills that coding teaches students. But while these are a fantastic bonus, the best reason to learn to code remains that coding itself is a lucrative skill to have.
There are currently some heated debates about whether coding as a skill is being devalued by our drive to teach it to more kids. If more people out there know how to code, so the thinking goes, businesses will not value the skill as highly. As things currently stand, there is no indication that this doomsday scenario is likely to come to pass anytime soon. What’s more, given the speed at which the world of coding moves and the emergence of new languages all the time, it seems very unlikely that we are going to run out of specialist career paths for coders to pursue.
It’s a Creative Pursuit
There is no right or wrong way to approach using a piece of software. Many people argue that coding is as much of an art as it is a science. We mentioned earlier that there are multiple routes individuals can take to solve most problems in coding. As a result, there is enormous room for creativity. Like an artist, each coder has their own unique way of approaching their canvas.
It’s easy to assume that coding is a very dry and logical subject. While there is a great deal of logic to coding, it is actually a far more vibrant and engaging activity than you might think. Even if you are working with simple text interfaces and no graphics to speak of at all in your program, you can still determine how the program you write interacts with its users.
While being good with math, logic, and similar subjects are helpful when coding, it is equally helpful to have a creative streak. At an organizational level, software developers across the board need creative people just as much as they need the super logical coders. If you are involved in designing software that has a graphical interface, the interplay between these two groups of people becomes even more important.
If you have ever used a piece of software designed by a software engineer and never put into the hands of a normal person before its release, you can really tell. There are lots of non-coding roles that creative people can pursue in software development. But learning to code will enable creative people to engage their creative talents and apply them to something tangible.
These are just some of the reasons why we should be teaching coding more widely. Every learner, from young children to young adults, can benefit from learning to code. Coding is an opportunity for everybody. It doesn’t matter what your background is or what your existing skillset is, coding provides everyone with the opportunity to utilize their skills and indulge their interests.
Not only this, but coding is a skill that is relevant to many people’s lives, even if they don’t realize it. For example, coding is a great way of convincing kids who play Minecraft to learn math. Just tell them they can make their own Minecraft mods if they’re willing to work at it.