Coding and Education; bridging the gap or walking a tightrope?

Teach more coding, get more programmers – is it that simple or are we sacrificing quality for quantity?

Becoming an employed computer programmer no longer requires lengthy formal education at the tertiary level. You can teach yourself on the internet, primary schools in the UK are introducing it and it’s becoming part of the core curriculum at high schools. Rather than rely on traditional computer science grads responding to job ads, many companies proactively offer coding academies as a way of generating their own pipeline of scarce IT skills. [paragraph 1 of 5]

Slate.com argues that it’s more important to learn to think than to mindlessly churn out lines of computer code. Just because you have learnt how to instruct a machine to do something, it doesn’t mean you can create useful things for that machine to do. On the other hand, very intelligent and experienced IT specialists have been known to produce fairly useless software, like the Parrot Trainer or Cactus Emulator. [2/5]

Many children as young as 5 in the UK will learn coding as part of a new curriculum aimed at closing the skills gap. This is partly driven by a computer skills shortage and partly to address a growing concern that current computer literacy courses are outdated and irrelevant. Will a 5 year old need to use Excel when they enter the workplace in 10-15 years or will it be more useful to understand how Excel was actually written? [3/5]

A radical new initiative launching in South Africa, called WeThinkCode_ will offer free “world class computer training” to anyone who qualifies. Based on the successful 42 model in France, the school will be run like an incubator and by 2017 aims to produce 1000 qualified IT professionals each year. Their corporate sponsorship model means there are no financial restrictions and is thus particularly accessible for under-privileged students. [4/5]

Importantly the students at WeThinkCode_ will learn by solving problems and also complete two 4-month internships during the 2 year programme which has a strong emphasis on mentorship. This will produce well rounded and independently minded techies with practical experience that can enter the workplace and make a real difference. Even though computers and technology dominate our lives, it’s still the coder behind the code that really matters. [5/5]

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