Proclamations like ‘kids need to learn to code!’ may be accurate but, without some context and conceptual unpacking, they can be rather unhelpful. Thankfully, fellow DMLcentral contributor Ben Williamson has done a great job of problematising the current preoccupation with coding by asking questions like: “What assumptions, practices and kinds of thinking are privileged by learning to code? Who gains from that? And who misses out?” In many ways what follows builds upon these ideas so it’s worth reading Ben’s article first if you haven’t already.
Along with the landscape issues identified in Ben’s article there’s a couple of additional procedural issues that need addressing with kids learning to code. The first is what we actually mean by ‘coding’. While I’m a big fan of productive ambiguity in providing a space for creativity to flourish I suspect that, collectively speaking, we’ve done a poor job of defining what ‘learning to code’ actually involves. Once we’ve gained some clarity on that, then (and only then) do we find ourselves in a position to outline reasons why learning to code might be important.