Learning to Code is Overrated

That headline got my attention when I saw that article published on the Daily News. Actually, someone linked it on Twitter...maybe Wired? I'm not sure. It doesn't matter, but in a classic sense of finding something you agree with, this was almost a home run for me.

The author, Jeff Atwood, lays out a really compelling argument about learning to code and how it isn't all that important. 

Well, that is my summary, really, but he says that learning to code is something anyone can do, and it is much less important than higher order thinking skills. What? A well versed programmer saying that creative thinking, communication, and problem solving are more integral to success and happiness than knowing the ins and outs of ones and zeros? Yup. That's it.

"There’s nothing wrong with basic exposure to computer science. But it should not come at the expense of fundamental skills such as reading, writing...", says Mr. Atwood. That's what he wants for his own children, to be able to think. To discern deeply. To have an understanding.

Sounds like good stuff to me. A strong pedagogical foundation, if you will. He also puts out an interesting correlation to that classic blue collar worker, the auto mechanic. Someone we all need from time to time, but not someone I would guess most parents want their children to be.


Find the entire article from Mr. Atwood on the Daily News.

A Change

‘I think many students didn’t realize that they could learn without a textbook or without step by step instruction.’

This line is from a Mind Shift article on the KQED website. I think I found out about it on Twitter, but that is neither here nor there.

I think it speaks to some of the changes that I have seen over the years as an educator. True, students have always wanted to, for the most part, do well and get good grades, but the number of kids grappling for every point vs truly wanting to "master" a concept has certainly increased.

Does every student want to be a master of each class? No. That will never change, but students are curious, and getting them to be curious in a way that keeps them exploring the content, well, that's just good pedagogy.

Part of the problem is that few teachers teach from a standpoint of curiosity and mastery. Few teachers give their students multiple chances to show they truly understand something. Yes, I know this is a generalization, but it is true.

Too many teachers are of the mindset that they have to teach the standards and/or the content that is set in front of them and they feel they don't have the time to give those multiple chances or teach to the depth that may be most beneficial. Additionally, too many teachers feel something along the lines of, "This is how I learned this, and I understand it perfectly well, so if it worked for me, why don't they understand?".

Well, either that or they have never truly been exposed to crazy good and/or relevant teaching.

I'm not saying I'm an expert, but none of us are perfect. We all need practice. In addition to that, it is the 21st century, and we as teachers shouldn't be a gatekeeper of knowledge. In reality nobody cares what formulas a student knows, they care about whether they can use those formulas (or create new ones).

What can you do (for me/us)? That is a much more relevant question our students are likely to run in to vs What do you know?

Why can't we teach them to remain curious and then FIND the answers/means/paths to address those curiosities? If we can do that, it's a big win. For everyone.


Inspired by:

How ‘Deprogramming’ Kids From How to ‘Do School’ Could Improve Learning by Katrina Schwartz


The Daily Splice

Where did the original finding of The Daily Splice (the work of Adam Hale) come from?

Great question. While we don't know the answer, we sure do love the work that gets posted to instagram and tumblr by this London based collage artist.

The idea of taking a discarded media source on public transit and making it into something lovely - and art - is just fantastic.

"The Daily Splice was started early in 2015 as a platform to share my analogue collage work, created using free weekly London magazines. There’s an immediacy to the work in which current topics, trends and affairs are given new context, turning something disposable into something of permanence." - Adam Hale