We are all taught to read and write at school. Our education system puts so much effort into making sure people are adequately literate so they can be effective members of society. It’s remarkable then, that in an age so driven by technology and computers, that we do so little to teach our children to program. We do teach them a bit about using computers, however it’s usually just how to use basic office applications, with maybe the slightest bit of html. I am disappointed that my young brother is completely code illiterate. Not in him, but in our education system.
We are on the cusp of the automation revolution. Soon many jobs will disappear, with employers chose to implement algorithms and smart machines in place of people. In this very different employment landscape, it is important to give our children the tools to navigate it. These tools come in the form of solid programming skills. Eventually we can expect most, if not all, jobs to be automated. At that point there will be no requirement for anyone to work to get by. However, before we get to that, we must make it through the transition. Such a transition will require a complete redesign of the way we live our lives. In the uncertainty that will come with it, our next generation need to be able to understand and build these complex automation systems, lest they risk getting left by the wayside, too late to be employed, too early for their needs to be catered to.
We can fix this by promoting coding education in our schools and communities. Technology moves so quickly that our slow education system has fallen greatly behind. We need to put the effort in now to catch back up. Perhaps part of the reason will fell behind in the first place was the cost of providing such education, though I would argue that is no longer an issue. Computers like the Raspberry Pi, and microcontroller boards like the Arduino represent a cheap hardware platform to teach programming on. The Raspberry Pi boards are incredibly cheap, requiring very little support hardware. They are also very useful. I am writing this post on an old Raspberry Pi 2 connected to a TV. This low bar to entry means there really is no excuse not to teach programming. We just need to get on and do it.