Code Red: Why Kids Aren’t Learning Computer Skills

The producer of ‘Waiting for ‘Superman’ ’ busts the myths that coding is just too hard and only for boys.

How would the world change if more kids were taught to code? (Photo c/o Lesley Chilcott)
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

We might be missing the boat on something pretty huge. It turns out computer science is among the highest paid college degrees and programming jobs are growing at two times the national average.

Now, why exactly aren't we teaching more kids how to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg?

Common myths around coding insinuate that, well, it's just too hard. A new short documentary by Lesley Chilcott, the producer of Waiting for "Superman," along with Code.org, a foundation and online hub dedicated to growing computer programming education, shows that this is not even remotely true.

In the film, famous faces from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg to Will.i.am talk about the importance of coding and how you don't need to be a genius to learn. They tell Chilcott that when you do get a program to work, "it feels like magic."

Technology is all around us, she says, yet most of us don't know how it works. "If you go to another country, you make an effort to learn a few words of the language, just so you can communicate. What's even more interesting to me is if you don't have a minimal understanding of how something functions, how are you going to know how to change it?"

Coding to her, and the founders of Code.org, is directly linked to change.

Thankfully, school administrators and lawmakers are starting to understand that we need to place more focus on computer science. Mayor Bloomberg, for example, recently announced that 20 public schools have been selected to take part in a software engineering pilot program in New York City.

For teachers and parents across the country, if coding is not offered at your school, it doesn't mean kids can't learn. With Code.org, you can type in your city online and find coding classes near you. There are also online options like Code Academy that will teach you coding skills for free.

"You can debate the pros and cons of the internet and modern technology," Chilcott says, "but the bottom line is it's everywhere, so do you help shape it or are you shaped by it?"

To view the short documentary visit Code.org.

Do you think more kids need to learn to code? Share your thoughts in comments.

Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee | TakePart.com

Comments ()