Lately there has been a lot of talk and work being done on teaching people to code. For example code.org and codecombat.com are some awesome examples that I really wish I’d had when I was growing up. But there is one thing that all of these wonderful sites can’t do and that and is to get out in front of people and let them know that there is such a thing as programming out there and these resources are available.
As a group, we programmers have a tendency to be a bit introverted, so when we try to solve problems like teaching people to code we build a piece of software for it. But do we teach them how to use that program or why they should use it in the first place? Don’t get me wrong I think these programs are awesome, I’m just saying we need to get out in front of kids and other members of the public and tell them that they are available.
What am I asking the programming community to do? Get involved in your local school’s career day, coach a kids robotics team, basically get out into your local community and reach out to the kids who are interested. And I know what I’m asking is a lot from some of you. I’m one of those introverted programmers who hates standing up and talking in front of crowds. But in the past few years I’ve been going to my son’s school for their career day and coaching his first lego robotics team. It took me way outside of my comfort zone and was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it has been more than worth it.
Not everyone is a programmer
What I’m asking won’t be easy and not all kids will be interested in programming. This might be a shock to some of the people who think everyone should be able to code but not everyone is cut out to be a programmer. Could you imagine the Crocodile Hunter as a programmer? I couldn’t, although I’d pay good money to read his code comments. 🙂 We’re also starting from such a small minority that I don’t think there are enough programmers around to train everyone else. There may be a time when everyone does need some kind of basic coding skills, but in my opinion we’re not there yet. And to get to that point we need to get out there and find the ones who are interested and train them so that we have a new generation of programmers and grow our community.
We need to reach those who are programmers
In my area there are no programming classes in the public schools at the middle school level and only a few are available at the high school level. And from what I’ve seen this doesn’t seem to be a rare thing in the United States public schools. Obviously this does need to change and hopefully it will eventually, but until then we need to go out to the schools and fill the gap. How many kids with programming capability are being ignored by the public school system right now?