Kids & Coding
Off late there is a surge in the number of online educators trying to sell programs involving teaching coding skills for children. They claim to train kids in building an android app or an online game.
Before I decided to write this piece, I did let my 11 years old go through a demo session of one such program which is now popular with almost every Bollywood celebrity endorsing it.
Before I go any further, let me establish my credentials. I have been in the business of programming for money for over 25+ years. In these years, I have seen multiple generations of programming languages. After all these years, I still code but that may be just 30% to 40% of my overall responsibilities as a Technical Director at a software development firm.
I strongly feel that it is meaningless to teach coding skills to children. Learning a programming language doesn’t mean anything to anyone. How to use & where to use programming skills, makes the most important part of programming. You can try to teach them how to write a pseudo code but not coding. Let them understand how to solve problems but they don’t need to know (yet) on converting a solution to a program (code).
There is a misconception that programmers merely know a programming language and just go about converting a defined solution to code. I don’t deny that such programmers or programming practices do exist but that breed is getting extinct pretty fast. Current day programmers (though I prefer to call them engineers) are expected to understand the business domain, medium of delivery (mobile, web or voice), localization (language & time zones), and many other such factors before starting to code.
Good or bad, our country had been churning out IT engineers at higher quantities than the market can absorb. Every year, a very small percentage of engineers find positions in various IT companies across the country. The rest of them try and enroll themselves with a ‘programming’ course and then try to find a position in the industry. In the end, a large percentage of these engineers, end up trying for a few more years before taking up other jobs.
Kids should go out and play. Let us try and help them to discover ‘learning’. Teach them how to approach learning guitar, playing cricket, or even telling stories on their own. When they understand ‘how to learn’ then they can learn a programming language or any skill for that matter when they grow up. Let us make them understand the ‘discipline’ of learning.