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Should we teach kids how to make programs instead of how to use them?

For the last two decades, most developed countries have implemented computer literacy education in schools. For students born in the 80s or even the early 90s, this was really important. However, students now no longer need this. They are already computer fluent. They are, as some people say, digital natives. Give them any program and they'll be able to teach themselves to do simple--to-moderate tasks without anyone teaching them in a short while.

Most schools teach students how to first use word processors, presentation programs, and spreadsheets. This is no longer needed for two reasons: 1) students are computer fluent, and 2) programs are getting more user friendly every day. Students don't need to be taught to use the programs they normally use. They should, however, be taught how to use the programs they will later need in life like spreadsheets and databases.
Instead, I think they should be taught programming. Although many schools around the school already teach programming, they teach it usually in highschool or junior high; if they teach it in elementary school, they usually teach a simplified "kids" language which uses drag-and-drop blocks. I think students should start learning programming languages like visual basic and Java in 5th or 6th grade. The first country that does this will have a huge IT revolution.
Kids are creative. Teaching them programming will be giving them the ability to direct this creativity and keep it.

So what do you think?

Written by a 16 year old.


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  • Oct 1 2011: Hi Nawaf,

    You have creative mind and Good analytical skills.

    My opinion on this would be-
    The main purpose of primary and secondary education is to teach the children, the Fundamental Human Qualities like Love, Humanity, Respecting elders, following the way of Truth, importance of Society, History of the his/her Country and the world, Basics of science, to play and may such things.

    Programming would be a professional skill and should be taught in college years. If some one wants to become a Singer, Doctor, Sports man, or any one except a programmer, why should he/she learn programming in school days?

    However, every one needs to know how to use Computers and handle applications. SO they are taught Basic computers in school. I would say, your point is not valid but definitely out of the box!!!
    • Oct 2 2011: what is our definition of "basic of sciences"? What makes biology, for example, a basic of science. A mechanical engineer, singer, or programmer won't benefit much from biology (I'm not saying biology shouldn't be taught; it's just an example). Educators teach it because they think it's essential general knowledge.

      Let's take a nearer example: computer classes. Why does a school choose a certain program to teach to students? Because they think it's essential if not for their daily lives, for their careers.

      The way I see it, a "basic of science" and "essential general knowledge" are a matter of opinion. If students are taught programming from an early age, we will have a revolution. I see programming as a "basic of science" because we interact with programs every single day of our lives. And for us born in the 90s and 21st cenury, we've been doing so since we were born. Isn't it the time to make the transfer from users to makers? Can you imagine the number of great ideas for software that would come out of a mind raised on software? Isn't it a shame for all those ideas to never come true when they can be made easily by a programmer.

      You see programming as a professional skill. This should be changed completely. We shouldn't treat as a skill better left for professionals, especially when some of the greatest programs and websites were made by enthusiasts.

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