Essential question: What are the compelling arguments both for and against computer coding in schools?

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‘This damn ??,’ – ‘So that’s computer language,’

When I hear the term coding I think of creating video games. Apparently I am behind the times. There are thousands of articles on coding in the classroom and to try to make sense of them is overwhelming. There is a lot of debate on whether coding should be added to the curriculum, and I agree with almost all that I have read good and bad.

In Jose Vilson blog, he states that coding opens doors. However he gives no real proof that it does anything good for the classroom. In a blog written by Beverly Amico she says that technology should assume a role in education but at the right stage in a child’s life. Becky Button a seventh grade teacher says it is the greatest thing that she has ever done and whished she did it earlier. John Dvorak, a columnist for PC Magazine says this is a scam, we need to teach basic life skills first.

All of these people make valid points. Wendy Zamora wrote an article called Why Coding Should Be Taught in Elementary Education (April 2014). She believes that there will be a 22% increase in computer related employment by the year 2020 (2014). She goes on to say that coding will be a valuable career tool in the future, and that the language of computers fires off neurons and opens up new pathways for learning (2014). She believes that coding is the new language that will replace foreign language in the schools. She goes on to say that teaching coding at schools represents transforming a generation of students from passive consumers of technology to active creators (2014).

Jeff Atwood Wrote an article called Please Don’t Learn to Code (May, 2012). In the article he cites Mayor Bloomburg of New York stating he wanted to learn how to code (2012). Atwood makes the point that coding will not make him a better mayor. It will not enhance his skills to run a city, and it will not do anything for the taxpayers (2012). Atwood goes on to say that reading, writing, and math will serve the populous more if they graduate high school with the basic skills to get a job or go to college. He does say that understanding what it is a good idea, but we need to learn how to do research and to communicate effectively with other humans first.

Mitch Resnick’s ted talk is a strong advocate for coding using his Scratch program, but in reality the hard work has been done, and to use the program all you have to do is connect widgets to make a computer do something. For me I don’t see that as coding, I see it as designing something with a program that has already been created. For me to be a believer I need to see how it is practical in the learning process. The following video by Chris Betcher is one of the best I have seen on how to use Scratch, and how to teach kids to use it in the classroom.

He explains how it is a problem-solving tool for students. Yes I am still at “this is a game”, but I can see how it may be beneficial to a classroom.

All in all I can see it being a tool for problem solving, but when I have ten year olds that can not spell “because” I can’t see this being a tool I need right now. When ten year olds cannot do basic math (addition and subtraction) it is hard to sell a principal on using time in class to play with a computer. All of these authors have made a good argument for both using and not using code in the classroom. For me, this is something I would like to look into but it is not something that I am dying to use in the classroom.

References:

Amico, Beverly. (2014, May 12). The Opinion Pages: Other Skills Should Take Priority Ovber Coding. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/other-skills-should-take-priority-over-coding

Atwood, Jeff. (2012, May 15). Coding Horror: Please Don’t Learn to Code. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://blog.codinghorror.com/please-dont-learn-to-code/

Betcher, C. (Producer). (2013, March 9). Teaching Kids To Code. Video Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qwbVGUeW2w

Button, Becky. (2014, may 12). The Opinion Pages: Kids Can Code, No Problem. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/kids-can-code-no-problem

Dvorak, John C. (2014, May 12). The Opinion Pages: Teaching Coding to Kids Is a Scam. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/teaching-coding-to-kids-is-a-scam

Resnick, Mitch. (2012, November) TED Talk. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/mitch_resnick_let_s_teach_kids_to_code?language=en

Vilson, Jose. (2014, November 4). The Opinion Pages: Coding Opens Doors. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/coding-opens-doors

Zamora, Wendy. (2014, April 1). Techspiration: Why Coding Should Be Taught in Elementary School [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://techblog.evan-moor.com/2014/04/01/coding-taught-elementary-school/

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4 comments

  1. wollert7790 · June 25, 2015

    Coding opens doors for those who aren’t in a profession Mayor Bloomberg. I feel coding should be an optional class for middle schoolers or high schoolers. My senior in high school nephew wants to go into engineering but won’t take his school’s coding class because of what other people say about the teacher. I think he’s doing a disservice to himself.

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    • jnyboy1131 · June 26, 2015

      Thanks for the input, I agree with what you say. I think it would be a great elective. I would love to be able to use it in the classroom, but I have no idea how to use it as a lesson or even what to put it with.

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  2. clindquist17 · June 26, 2015

    I read the arguments for and against coding as well and I thought both sides made good points. However, I would have liked to see them pull in real data, or proof as you put it, to support their arguments. I also think that coding makes a wonderful elective in middle and high school. As an elementary school teacher, I could introduce it to my students so they would have some background knowledge and interest in it before reaching middle school. I think as an elementary school teacher, it is my job to find fun ways for my students to experiment with coding, but unless my district added it to my curriculum, I don’t know that I could dedicate time every day or every week to it.

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  3. jnyboy1131 · June 28, 2015

    Thanks for the input. I agree, every minute of my day is accounted for by the district, it would be hard to sell something like this since we don’t have the technology, or the time. Lee said teaching the basics because we can and not involving tech is a loss to the students. I agree and disagree. When kids are eight, nine, and ten and read at a kindergarden level, coding is not a priority. When kids cannot write a complete sentence, technology classes are the furthest from anyones mind. If we can build up the basics so they can understand how to follow a simple set of instructions, we are setting them up to take these classes in the future. You are right neither side had hard and fast data to support their statements, so in reality, I do not see it as a ned right now.

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