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“What most schools don’t teach”

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 in Education, Tech

Code.org has a pretty clear agenda. I’d like to learn to code too. But is Steve right? Should all students learn to code? Is that more important than learning basic electrical wiring or how to tune an engine or chop down a tree or kill for food? Or play a musical instrument? Or are all these skills forever outdated and irrelevant? What is the baseline for essential learning and assembling the fundamental tools that lead to innovative thinking? What are the new tools for survival? Surely it’s increasingly important to understand basic coding to compete even for blue collar manufacturing jobs. But I am always concerned that we mistake our tools for our content. The medium is not necessarily the message when it comes to education. Teaching children to code is not teaching them to think. Coding is a skill. I don’t think the success of the people in this video comes from their ability to code; I think it comes from their ability to think, and to deploy their knowledge of code to execute and follow through on their ideas. Not the other way around. This is not to say that I disbelieve that learning to code can have formative benefits to learning. I think any constructive process that engages abstract thought to solve problems is critical to developing keen minds. But again, I am concerned that our educational system confuses– much as our species generally confuses– tools for content. And the tool of coding should not be mistaken as the main path toward a rewarding and innovative future for our civilization.