Coding And Beyond

Our children are going to enter a world that’s very different from ours. Much of what our children learn in schools today will be irrelevant for the jobs of the 21st century.

What is all this uproar about coding all of a sudden? Is it something super essential that you must teach your child? Or is it just a scam to milk you out of money? If you feel either of these or your feelings fall somewhere in between, it is completely understandable considering all the pseudo scientific claims and tall promises being spread around. As a parent, you have taken the role of an ‘angel investor’ for your child, and as a part of that duty, you have the burden to research, weigh the pros and cons and decide what’s best for your child’s future. 

Our children are going to enter a world that’s very different from ours. Much of what our children learn in schools today will be irrelevant for the jobs of the 21st century. As famous historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Hahari describes, they are going to be ‘Learning Nomads’. He says that we currently use a ‘production line’ inspired education system from the 19th century to stuff our children with a truckload of facts in the hope they can get a job that they can keep for the rest of their lives. This won’t work anymore. Instead, we are entering an era where they have to be trained to become lifelong learners. This was a luxury back in our times but is a necessity for the times that your children will be exposed to. So the real question must come down to “How can we prepare our children for this new world of rapid transformations and radical uncertainties?”. Not “Is coding important for my child to get a job?”

The first step to answering this question is that children must be taught how to Learn, so that they are quick to adapt to an environment that is going to demand them to re-invent their careers and themselves every few years. This includes developing the essential mindsets and skills that will play a pivotal role in navigating the dynamic landscape of the 21st century. The key mindsets that we must train our kids on include curiosity, grit and growth mindset.The key skills that they must master are the 4Cs of the 21st century - Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Communication. While this may seem simple, trusted educators worldwide agree that this is one of the most challenging tasks ahead of us as a generation because these skills can’t be taught effectively in isolation by using traditional education methods that teach subjects in isolation in a lecture-based timetable-driven format.

The best way to teach these key mindsets and skills is to help our children practice them regularly by coupling them with the core academic subjects that they have to learn anyway (such as science, math, English etc). If done well, this will make it so that children really internalise these skills and are able to apply them independently outside the classroom. India is already taking steps in this direction with the recent NEP’s holistic and integrated approach for education suggesting the same.

This brings us to the question, ‘Is coding and computer science one of these core subjects’? And the answer is yes. The NEP has mandated teaching coding to kids from middle school. Moreover, while the field of computer science or computer programming has existed for decades, the last few years have seen rapid advancements, especially in the space of Machine Learning and Artificial

Intelligence, that have the potential to redesign our way of life and our identity as humans. This makes it extremely important for young children to develop computer literacy so that they can interpret and interact with the new technology-led world of tomorrow. But what’s to be kept in mind is that the learning curve for computer science should be as spread out as for other subjects like science and math. Crash courses and bootcamps that make your children build apps and websites in a jiffy may sound tempting but are not the answer. This is essential because the children of today will play a critical role in designing the world of tomorrow and the world of tomorrow requires us to fundamentally change what and how we teach our children today. So, before I leave, I wish you all the best in this journey of guiding your child towards becoming a happy, independent learner for life.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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