This week I’ve heard my friend, Idit Caperton Harel, been quoted again and again. She said very clearly and loudly that coding is this century’s literacy, the same reading and writing was 100-150 years ago.
I don’t think she meant that by teaching kids to code you are coaching them to become programmers. The same way that teaching kids to read and write 150 years ago didn’t mean you were going to turn them into authors and poets.
But over the last several months, I could even say a couple of years, it had become clearer and clearer and I chose to ignore it only because this fact made me feel uncomfortable. Coding is a life necessity. And since it’s really getting simpler – it shouldn’t be so scary or make us feel that uncomfortable.
So this year I’ve decided to go study. I’m studying game design, nearly 5 years after I started to write my first game design document. One of the reasons I signed up for this expensive program is my hope I will get some technical tools that will enable me to create something. For the first several coding (C#) classes I was OK. I liked the simplicity and the logic. But I think somewhere around lesson 3 or 4 I got stuck because of an error I couldn’t decipher. The class moved on, I stayed behind and there was no rewind button to help me discover the missing parentheses.
Several years ago I studied multimedia. It was a full time 7 months course which taught me about 5 different software in graphic, video, sound etc. – plus a crash course in HTML, knowledge that I enjoyed even when using this totally friendly platform called “WordPress”. It went a lot better than the current software and programming classes are going for me. “Did I get stupid over the years?”, I asked myself. I guess not. But my pace have change, I am much more busy today. I read A LOT more than I have back then, and I really, and I mean really love Twitter.
And so I found myself on Codeacademy learning JS. Thought I should give it a try. A couple of hours and I’m over the basics. I have now reached the “program your first game” stage and I feel so proud of myself.
Then I started to think about this methodology. First of all – the very short intro, followed by a very short exercise of the topic. Then, the important role of the “back” button. I mean I haven’t finished a book in two years, but I’ve read on twitter and through it the amount of at least 100 books. It’s easier to gulp, spreadable, flexible, not tiring, not requiring the concentration of … well someone else. I don’t even know who.
Why is the codeacademy model not replicated as a math test prep model is beyond me. Teach math in 140#rythm seems like a pretty good idea. My 10th grader would have loved to learn math if he could do it like this. And math teachers would be able to finally concentrate on those students who need the extra attention, instead of giving useless speeches in noisy classes.