Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding: But mostly a video game (Elliot Soloway)
Elliot gets it right in his NYtimes quote from this last weekend. Young kids who code are probably not learning much computer science that might lead to future jobs. Rather, they’re “programming” as if it’s a video game. That’s not at all bad, but it makes less believable the argument that we need coding in skills to improve the future labor force.
The spread of coding instruction, while still nascent, is “unprecedented — there’s never been a move this fast in education,” said Elliot Soloway, a professor of education and computer science at the University of Michigan. He sees it as very positive, potentially inspiring students to develop a new passion, perhaps the way that teaching frog dissection may inspire future surgeons and biologists.
But the momentum for early coding comes with caveats, too. It is not clear that teaching basic computer science in grade school will beget future jobs or foster broader creativity and logical thinking, as some champions of the movement are projecting. And particularly for younger children, Dr. Soloway said, the activity is more like a video game — better than simulated gunplay, but not likely to impart actual programming skills.