Code.org produced a video with a message to kids. The message can be distilled to a few basic ideas. Coding is cool. Programming isn’t hard. Programming leads to awesome jobs. More K-12 schools should teach programming. And, everyone should learn how to code. However, instead of talking about the lack of programming in K-12 curriculum, Twitter and blogs are abuzz with news about the people in the video. Mark Zuckerburg. Bill Gates. Jack Dorsey. Will.i.am. Chris Bosh.
First, if you’re trying to reach K-12 students, are those people really cool? Is it better to hear from middle-aged adults and twenty-something technocrats or from real kids who are learning to code? Or, perhaps amidst the web-chatter, the real targets are policy makers, who need to do more than throw together a quote.
The United States needs high-level policy makers to champion education reform in the United States. In the U.K., Michael Grove, Minister of Education, addressed the issue of programming and curriculum in a recent speech and called for open source learning. What would open source learning look like in the United States? In U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s, 2010 speech about the digital transformation in education, not a single reference is made to programming or coding. Instead, the speech focuses on resources and use of technology in education and not on understanding technology. How do schools shift from using technology to teaching how technology works?
Code.org offers the statistics that 9 out 10 schools in the United States do not offer programming courses and in 41 out of 50 states, high school classes in programming do not fulfill a math or science requirement toward graduation. The non-profit is trying to reinvigorate the conversation, but more needs to be done.
If you’re passionate about education reform and the importance of learning how to code, you need to do more than talk about famous people in a video. You need to contact your local schoolboards, state education departments, and politicians.
If you have a great idea or want to share an example of schools teaching technology in an innovative way, please share it in the comments below.