Why should students learn to code

why students should learn to code

Learn in this article about the Importance of programming skills for students. How students can obtain leadership and discipline through coding and programming in school, college and after basic computer education.


Programming is the most indispensable part of technology today. Without computer programming, virtually nothing would work- from phones, satellites and internet to nuclear reactors, transmission grids, defence systems and banks- the list is endless. Computers are everywhere and communicating with them using the languages they speak has become essential.

There are many similarities between how we communicate with humans and computers. In both cases, there are some set rules of grammar, syntax and semantics in language. We have to understand the symbolic representation (syntax) in order to derive the meaning (semantics) from the words, sentences and pages of the language we want to learn. There are close to 7000 different languages that humans speak on the planet and 256 computer programming languages. Thankfully, only a handful of these languages are widely accepted and worth learning.

When we talk about languages used in computer programming, semantics describe the logical entities and their interactions with each other. Whereas syntax decides how these are expressed in characters. Today, C++, Java, PHP, Python and Ruby are the most widely used languages for programming. Which one of these languages you want to learn should depend upon which genre/category of programming is most appealing to you. Somebody interested in game design would definitely be interested in C++, while someone working on the internet for web page design would be more inclined to learn about Javascript, PHP or Python.

 

But this article is not about the Which and How of programming, but about the Why.

Why it’s Important to learn programming, especially for students at an early age-

1. It encourages critical thinking and problem solving skills

Computer languages are made of logic. You need a logical approach to understand and use them for solving problems. Just as spoken languages strengthen communication among humans, programming languages strengthen problem solving, logical thinking and creativity in students.

So it’s not just about tech skills, learning how to program will instil valuable life lessons like critical thinking, situation analysis and resource allocation in a child at an early age. How to solve a problem by dividing it into smaller chunks is one life lesson i learned myself while learning C++ in College.

2. It gives students an edge over the others

Much of the focus in the extremely competitive environment of schools is on conventional subjects, ignoring programming completely. Which is not justified because more than half of the students aspire to, or end up being software engineers, who need to code. So why not just teach them the things that they’ll need to know in the future?  Like programming courses for game development , lots of students will be interested in that at school.

If a student starts learning to code at an early age, it can give him an edge over the others who are just focused on typical subjects. He will already start know knowing about things that the other students will eventually start learning in the 3rd semester of engineering college. Take an example of Tanmay Bakshi, a self-taught programmer who is an AI expert for IBM Watson, at 13 years of age.


3.  It can develop leadership skills in students.

When students learn programming they learn about hierarchy and the importance of following a set of instructions. Students begin to understand how certain events are triggered by one individual or leader (program) but are executed by the subordinates  (other programs).

This teaches a student how one thing can lead to another in real life too, when there is a leader who can make the important decisions. It also inculcates a sense of responsibility in students because it shows the inter dependability and accountability that different elements of a program can have for each other.

4. It teaches discipline, determination and order in life

Learning to code and program is quite similar to other learning experiences. Ask a student how difficult it was to get their Heroes to level 20 in Clash of Clans, and they will tell you it took a lot of hard work and determination to upgrade their heroes. Next, tell them that all of Clash and Clans is nothing but programming.

They have an increased appreciation for both programming and discipline to achieve great results. This determination can be channelled to learn programming in an interesting way. They realise that If you follow the prescribed code of conduct, work sincerely and stay disciplined, the end results are always pleasing. With programming this is even more true- everything must be in their right place and order, both visually and logically, if you want the program to run as desired.

Any slip of slightest logic(discipline) has an adverse impact on the final outcome. This way, programming also instils a sense of perseverance, determination in the face of failures, that teaches us that no matter how many times the program fails to run, we must try, try again.

 

Today there is a shift in the employ ability skills, which calls for a change in the way education is. approached by governments and teachers. We need more people who are problem solvers, creative thinkers and not just those who are proficient in spreadsheets and word processing.

Babies are born with a smartphone in their hand today, so its evident that programming is both the present, and the future of technology. Shouldn’t we be committed about teaching our children how to code, to make them future ready ?

Related: Why is Programming Important

Analogy to learn programming- nestable and stackable containers for storage in kitchen. The kitchen is your coding platform with its vegetables (functions, subroutines) and spices (classes). These are stored in containers that are nesting Inside each other. (Like nesting dolls) . when one container is opened it can have several more inside it with different contents. Similarly one function may be holding several classes inside it. To put all this into a frying pan (run environment) in the right order and timing using logic and reasoning is programming explained in a simple way.

In conclusion: Technology is changing the tools and resources for learning and problem solving. Today, the concept of Artificial Intelligence and its ready to program and repair itself whenever needed. It’s not that programming is the only important subject, it’s all about using ingenious means of learning. It’s about taking the creativity in children to new heights so that in future they will not be dependent on others for the survival of their career.

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Word wizard. Electrical engineer. Himachali. Human.

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