This week in question time, we’ve seen our politicians talk awkwardly about code, coding and programming. Clearly none of them have ever written a single line of code, yet are somehow qualified to decide how important it is to the future of Australians.
Today’s question time in Canberra began with opposition leader Bill Shorten again raise the issue. Asked to re-examine his inadequate response from yesterday, again Prime Minister Tony Abbott says there is no issue. He says “Coding is now on the curriculum at every level”. The problem with that statement is that it fundamentally differs from the proposal to have it move from an optional subject, to a mandatory one in all primary schools in Australia.
There is no part of our society that hasn’t been impacted by technology and the jobs of the future will depend on digital competence. Only if students at school now are taught the basics, can they be in a position to create new services and business in the future. The analytical and problem solving that is learnt through programming (whatever the language) is a skill that will help people throughout their lives. So even if kids don’t go on to work in a computer-related industry like design, development etc, their skills in a non-technical position would be positively impacted by having that foundation from an early age.
It’s not important that it’s the opposition calling for coding in Schools, I’m not sure they really understand what it means to code, or do coding or program something, but that someone is. Here’s a clip from Question time.
There are plenty of examples where teenagers are starting businesses after having learnt (usually self-taught) how to build applications and services. You don’t get to start businesses at that age unless you’ve already had years of experience. Imagine someone leaving high school with 10 years of experience in software development, compared to graduates from other countries who don’t start that early, Australia and Australians would be in an amazing global position.
Treasurer Joe Hockey likes to talk about the importance of small business, how it’s the backbone of the economy. Well the small businesses of tomorrow won’t be fish and chip shops, they’ll be online. The investment in teachers and training in programming for students of today, would not just be beneficial, it’s critical to the success of Australia and it’s economy.
When you watch a child interact with a device, they are not only entertained, but educated. While some will consume, all should ask, why can’t I create a game or an app? What’s different about me vs the people who built a website? The answer is knowledge, something we can leave up to chance, or we can as a society, prepare our next generation to have the skills to have an idea and create. Find a problem and solve it.
In the international marketplace that we live in, it’s possible to create something that not only funds their own income, but build a business that creates jobs for others.
Please Prime Minister, talk to people who understand this topic and listen to them. This issue is too important to have quick political “zingers”, you’re playing with our future.
If you’re a parent and you can’t wait for our politicians to sort this out, get your kid in front of CodeAcademy.com, it’s free and available to all.