Monday, January 15, 2018

Why Teach Coding? Same Reasons to Teach Writing Even When Not All Students Will Be Writers

Students using Robot Turtles to learn coding.
According to the team at, computing is “a fundamental part of daily life, commerce, and just about every occupation in our modern economy.” Across the country and around the world, there is a growing call to action for educators, insisting that it is essential that students are exposed to the field of computer science because it is foundational in transforming the way a student thinks about the world in a way that is unique to the 21st Century landscape. Computer science not only teaches students about technology, it also teaches them how to think differently about any problem. In a December 2017 interview, Mitch Resnick, MIT professor and one of the creators of Scratch, was asked whether or not coding should be required in every single public school. He answered as follows:
If it were up to me, I would introduce it. But I want to be careful because I don’t want to embrace it for the same reason that some people might. The first question I would ask is: “Why should we learn coding at all?” Many people embrace coding in schools as a pathway to jobs as computer programmers and computer scientists, and of course they’re right that those opportunities are expanding rapidly. But that’s not a great reason for everyone to learn how to code.
Very few people grow up to be professional writers, but we teach everyone to write because it’s a way of communicating with others—of organizing your thoughts and expressing your ideas. I think the reasons for learning to code are the same as the reasons for learning to write. When we learn to write, we are learning how to organize, express, and share ideas. And when we learn to code, we are learning how to organize, express, and share ideas in new ways, in a new medium. (Source)
Students using BeeBots to learn to code.
The Tonka Codes program gives all of our students in Minnetonka these opportunities. In Minnetonka, the Big Idea designed in 2013-14 and launched in 2014-15 called Tonka <codes> has tested the hypothesis that computer programming and computer science can succeed as core content at the elementary grades and can prosper as a series of elective courses at the secondary level. As the District continues its fourth year of implementation, the results of the test continue to show positive data based on both student performance and student interest. Tonka <codes> is also a program that provides Minnetonka students with the training and support to make a significant contribution in the 21st Century marketplace.

Students using
Want to learn more? Last week we presented an update to our School Board about the Tonka <codes> program. Associate Superintendent Eric Schneider, Teacher Leaders Andrea Hoffmann and Lisa Reed and I spoke about the 2017-18 scope and sequence through the grades, the progress made in elementary schools, the impact on Middle School STEM, Core Content Areas and High Potential Programs, and the current and new High School courses. We also spoke about the impact of The Hub, makers and coders spaces in the elementary and middle schools and highlighted some of the projects students had completed. You can watch the full presentation here

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting topic, thanks so much for sharing! The analogy of teaching coding is like teaching writing is very effective - technology is the future and coding is a skill that will be an asset to all students whether they go into that field or not. It is a shame they didn't teach coding in school from an earlier age!