In Scotland and Estonia, children are taught to programme from an early age, In the rest of the UK, we teach children to use software to make spreadsheets. It’s not enough. Most programmers start under 14. Give a baby a tablet and then a magazine – and they’ll get frustrated with the magazine. No pinch to zoom…
Teaching children to code empowers them to bring their imaginations to life, and brings out creativity. It’s a great life skill. Oh, and it’s a great career choice. There aren’t enough programmers.
How do we start? Well, nine year olds love apps and games. Maybe they’ll enjoy making them, too… Most programmers got going through wanting to make things. We should change the curriculum. But most teachers don’t know even the basics of coding. We’ve had 40 years of the internet, 20 years of the web. But we’ve now got a lost generation growing up code-illiterate when they should have been taught it in school. In March this year, Clare was sitting drinking beer with her friend. What if, they mused, we sent developers into schools to teach kids to code in code clubs? They tried hard to forget this idea – it would be a lot of hard work. But it didn’t go away. So they launch their call to arms to the tech industry.
They brought together a team of writers, and used a programming language called Scratch, designed for children at MIT. They created nine projects, which create a toy, animation or game. They’re teaching programming by stealth. The kids rated the projects as 92% fun. They started this September, and have 300 clubs in the UK. There are 23,000 primary schools in the UK – so there’s a long way to go. Why shouldn’t every child have the chance?
One day, digital natives will grow up and become teachers. If we teach this generation, they will grow up, become teachers, and teach coding to the next generation.
There’s a wee boy called Adam. He wants to be a programmer – or a stunt man – so, for his safety, we need to teach children to program.