You’ve probably seen this format in every other article on the topic, and would assume that I would start off this article by telling you about what exactly coding/programming is and then start stating the reasons as to why it is important for everyone to learn programming.
Nah! Instead, I want to explain what led me to pursue programming and why I think it’s important (note: not compulsory) to learn this skill from an early age.
I want to start by rewinding my life back to 1998, this is when used a computer for the very first time. It was an old generation Intel PC with 128MB DDR1 RAM, 20GB Hard disk; I believe it had a Pentium processor. My very first interaction with a computer was when I used MS paint to draw something. It was my hand giving instructions to the computer to draw something on the screen. I was actually communicating with the computer. I wondered how this communication between a human and a computer was possible. That interaction started my love for computers and a whole world of mystery opened up for me, with just a single question, “How can a computer do that?” Hence, my journey began.
I soon figured out that learning a programming language helped me give commands to the device. But, not until after my high school did I learn to code. There’s been no stopping since then. Each and every programming language I’ve learned has made me interact with the device in a different and exciting way. Being trilingual all my life, for the first time, I felt I could talk in many more languages (pun intended). And, I believe everyone should learn this skill for fun at least.
In the world that we are living in, schools teach Mathematics, Biology, Social Sciences etc. by saying that children have to learn about their surroundings. It isn’t an over-blown statement when I say that we are more surrounded by technology than any other generation that lived before us. In an age where an 8-year-old kid uses Amazon’s Alexa to switch on/off a light in his room, he has to be taught, at least at the basic level, about how the communication between humans and devices happens.
This issue, at its core, is not making a person learn the entire syntax of a programming language, making them write code and launching a rocket to start a company to rival SpaceX or bag a job at a tech company like Google. The very essence of introducing programming at an early age is to help the child develop new ways of thinking and problem-solving skills. This, in some ways, can be referred to as “Computational thinking”.
According to Wikipedia “Computational Thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating a problem and expressing its solution(s) in such a way that a computer-human or machine — can effectively carry out”. Computational thinking, according to my perspective, is understanding the problem and instead of jumping toward finding solutions, breaking it into different smaller problems logically, with each having its own piece to contribute to the end result when solved. This provides a structured solution to the problem backed by logic and reason. One very good explanation for this is given as follows:
“So what is computational thinking? If you’ve ever improvised dinner, pat yourself on the back: You’ve engaged in some light CT.
There are those who open the pantry to find a dusty bag of legumes and some sad-looking onions and think, “Lentil soup!” and those who think, “Chinese takeout.” A practiced home cook can mentally sketch the path from raw ingredients to a hot meal, imagining how to substitute, divide, merge, apply external processes (heat, stirring), and so on until she achieves her end. Where the rest of us see a dead end, she sees the potential for something new.”
And as all the good things have to come to an end, so does this article. In conclusion, I’d like to say that this type of thinking paves way for training the brain, allowing those who learn to break every problem into smaller bits and understand better. This provides solutions backed by logic and reason which helps in giving way to more creative solutions. Introducing this trait in coming generations, starting young, will open our little planet to a whole new set of opportunities to make it a better place.
The End. Or The Beginning?
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