Script for Script

Things Change

In recent months, there’s been a midsize, media-driven kerfuffle surrounding the markedly waning importance of teaching cursive writing in schools. This topic is neither my motivation nor something I hold in high regard, but it serves to show that as society progresses, so shift its priorities. What was once regarded as a staple of the educated has fallen on the side of irrelevance and now faces complete omission from curriculum. Teaching children to code is a relatively new initiative and has been met with a great deal of success. Children are natural learners, especially when it comes to language.

coding-kids

Children learn to make video games at a coding camp in British Columbia.

Language is Language

Though it may seem an oversimplification to describe computer code as basally a language, that’s really what it is.

public static void main(String[] args) {}

Without prior exposure, this may seem like an incoherent word salad with cringe-worthy punctuation, utterly meaningless and devoid of sentiment. However, if you don’t speak German, is it more or less nonsensical than:

Die Zeit wird uns alle ändern.

Both convey meaning if and only if you understand the language and both contain meaning regardless of your understanding. We continue to peddle foreign language in schools, which I believe still provides benefit, but perhaps it’s time to also consider something a bit more ubiquitous.

Boundless Benefits

By and large, the majority of people who’ve spent time learning a new language will never us it outside of a classroom, save a few misspoken attempts at locating a bathroom on vacation. What could you do if you had a basic understanding of how almost everything around you worked? Computers are everywhere, not just in the devices you expect (phones, tablets, laptops) but in most devices that require electricity (thermostats, cars, microwaves, motion lights).

Certainly Uncertainly Certain

More basic even than the understanding of minimally computerized operation is that of the logic that governs it. Exposing youth to complex ideas and problems early allows them to more fully internalize their construction, deconstruction, and ultimately, solution. Working through multi-tiered input Booleans (true/false statements) could eventually enable children to lead their parents through a horrific briar patch of quadruple negatives just to figure out if they’ve cleaned their room.

Teach a Man to Fish…

We can be fairly confident that technology is not a fad nor quickly deescalating trend. It seems to be in it for the long haul and it appears to have the support required for indefinite longevity. Prepping students for the program-governed world they will one day mold themselves seems an obvious and necessary lesson.

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