As a part of the hour of code initiative, I was pleased to present my perspective on computer programming to first and third graders at Grapevine Elementary School in December. Through the presentation I was able to inspire the students to see programming in their future.
I’ve been frustrated over the years with how little people know about programming. When I ask an eight year old what they want to do when they grow up, you get a lot of firemen, police officers, teachers, and professional athletes. When children of today grow up they will more likely work closely with computers, regardless of their profession. No one will be exempt. So it’s important for them to view programming as a tool, like math, reading, or writing, that is to be used to create value for others.
I talked about the people who made this toy, the producers, and the people who bought it, the consumers. When they grow up and produce, they’ll produce solutions that use computers in awesome ways. We call that programming. They’ll call it normal.
I ended the presentation with some myths related to programming:
|It’s only for video games||Programming is for solving problems. Problems are everywhere, not just in video games|
|It’s only for adults||My son learning Ruby through Codecademy and using RubyMine|
|It’s too complicated||Actually trying to solve a complicated problem without the help of a computer is complicated. Illiterate people think that reading is complicated. This is just another form of literacy.|
|Computers will take over the world and we won’t need humans anymore||Computers do one thing well: do what they’re told. You can’t reduce love, empathy, and character to a set of instructions. Being able to work with other people is essential to one’s development and ultimate economic value to the world.|
My son and I are working through his math homework using Ruby right now. If that goes well I might post a few YouTube videos explaining it. I think there is a large, untapped group of people who would really be interested in finding programming literacy from a young age.
I want to think Mrs. Cox’s fourth grade class for the encouraging thank-you notes on the presentation. You guys don’t know how much those meant to me. I also want to thank Nancy Hale for setting it up and encouraging kids to learn coding.