The importance of teaching computer programming to young children
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph last year, British schoolchildren would, under a new curriculum, learn how to write simple computer programs from the age of five. About time too.
There are a lot of benefits to young children learning computer programming (sometimes called “coding”). For instance, it is likely to improve their thinking skills as they begin to learn the cold, mathematical logic of the computer. It will also teach them to be precise (essential if they choose engineering or science careers), otherwise the program may not do what they expect.
Writing programs – especially debugging them – will teach young children patience and how to cope with frustration when the computer doesn’t do as they think they’ve told it. (Either that, or their teacher will have a nervous breakdown trying to deal with the ensuing tantrums!)
Of course, programming is a useful skill in itself and can be very rewarding in its own right, as I know from my own experience of studying it during computing-science classes at school, college and university. For young children, it is particularly exciting if they learn the programming language Logo in conjunction with so-called turtle graphics (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtle_graphics for more information about these).
It truly is incredible, I think, that it has taken so long for the educational establishment to realise the importance of teaching computer programming to children. As Kathryn Parsons, chief executive and co-founder of a company providing training in programming says: “Coding is the new literacy.”
And we all know how important literacy is.