Mozilla posted Building a big tent for teaching the web, I have to disagree with their goal if I understand that correctly. From its survey, it seems that Mozilla intends to teach age 8-15 how to code as a mean to support digital making:

  • 67% of British 8 – 15 year olds say they’re interested in learning to program and write computer code. But only 3% are currently being given the opportunity to do so.
  • 60% of British parents say they would like their children to learn about coding.
  • Parents now place digital literacy amongst their top four educational priorities, alongside English, Mathematics, and Science.

Honestly, I think this numbers mean not very much. When you ask a kid: What do you want to do in the future? You can expect most of them not only want to do many things but also all in the same time. And that 3% who knows how to code, I am not even sure if 3% of college students can code or not. I am very interested in the definition of knowing how to code.

If you ask a parent: Whom do you want your children to be? Well, you know the possible answers. These days, parents want their children to learn everything, such as sports, music, science, etc. 60%, well, I am surprised the number is little lower than I expected.

Regardless the age, I don’t think coding should ever be included in digital literacy or digital making. It should be like this:

Real world                   Digital world
How to write              -> How to use office suites to create a document
How to write a good novel -> How to code

Not everyone is a writer and not everyone is a coder in digital world. I don’t understand why people can’t use computer. Just click and click, that’s all it takes. How hard is that? Fear of breaking things? Re-install!

But what do you need to code? Coding requires skills which are acquired step by step. Basically, I would say:

  • Sense of logic
  • Mathematics: algebra (minimum)
  • Reading skill
  • Patience

Logic is the most important part, not only in coding but also in living, when your program doesn’t go the way you want, logic can help. Mathematics is also important, for instance, to calculate how many iterations. Reading, you need to read to know and read people’s codes to learn good and bad codes. Patience, sometimes, documentation is long.

Those need time to learn, almost all of 8 years old wouldn’t do it well and they shouldn’t be staring at computer screen. They should go out and have fun with friends in my opinion. For god’s sake, kids have too much to learn already, stop cutting off their fun time.

Coding can be fun, yes, but not always, especially when you are lack of skills to understand. When you don’t possess enough knowledge, it’s not learning but could be a damage like ignorance to science.

There are a lot of bad coders which are lacking those skills I mentioned above. Some clearly couldn’t code but just copy-and-paste. Being able to modify a few variables or to read a code does not mean you know how to code. As web blooming, I feel PHP and JavaScript attract most of bad coders.

I don’t know if people think one can code is smart, so if they can, too, that would be cool. Honestly, there are many programs for lots of things, you only need find one and know how to use it.

If you really want to teach people how to code, teach them the basics, let themselves progress afterwards, and accept that coding is not for everyone like some people just couldn’t dance.

These days, if someone really is interested in coding or anything, he or she only needs to search. Tons of good tutorials available already, you don’t need to create more.

I learned Object Pascal, FoxPro, and PIC Assembly when I was 14-16. I had no knowledge of programming beforehand or people can teach me. The only sources were books, there was only dial-up network at the time. I read and that’s how I learned.

Maybe what we need to do is teach children how to ask their question in search engine, that is simply type in the question as if asking their parents. In this case, search “how to code” and start reading patiently.