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Nawaf Alnaji

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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 2 2011: Hello Nawaf, There are two things to look at in your argument.First, programming is a professional skill. Just like a doctor is good at surgery programmer is good at creating computer applications. That however does not mean that every student regardless of his interests should be taught programming. Its an individual decision. Another point is that you are talking about the IT revolution. How can we guarantee the fact that introducing the programming at school level will create such a revolution. We have been taught mathematics from the childhood, inspite of that very few people choose maths as their major in high school, same is the case with the other subjects like languages history, geology etc. Also creativity in children is not explored only through the art of programming. There are other(and perhaps better) means of doing that . Whatever we are taught at school level like mathematics, logic are necessary basics to the computer applications. Once you are thorough with it you can write programs in any language, because what you then need is just the syntax. We can draw a good analogy from subject of drawing. We are all taught how to draw at the school level but not all of us can produce the Monalisa..

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