4. Creative problem solving. Coding teaches kids to become creative problem solvers. In a rapidly changing world, the problems of today will not be the problems of tomorrow. For example, we may one day have to address how society handles robots that are more efficient than their human counterparts. The increasing complexity of future problem sets requires those who can rapidly develop creative solutions to a wide variety of problems. The beauty of learning to program is that in conjunction with developing solutions, one is also learning how to bend that language to meet their needs. This skill of not simply accepting the status quo is what has led to a high level of confidence among developers in their problem solving capabilities; they truly believe that they can solve anything they set their mind to. Imagine having a nation of kids that believes that no problem is too big for their collective brainpower or solve.
5. Idea communication. Learning to program helps kids communicate their ideas. When I was a kid, my siblings and I used to write to my Aunt who lived in a different state. We would talk about what was going on in our lives, how we were doing in school, and how we were looking forward to her visiting us. Communication via pen and paper has been the dominant platform of communication for a really long time. Now, web-based communication via blogging and social media platforms dominate. In order to stay current and communicate their ideas in the most effective manner, there must be a recognition of the new standard. While there are some platforms that provide a walled garden for communication, there are others that with a bit of coding enables you people to put the presentation of their ideas on steroids. My sister understood this distinction earlier than my brothers and I as she would write to my Aunt using colored construction paper and incorporate small drawings to bring to life the personality of her message. We've seen this in the workplace as well, those who are skilled with PowerPoint or iMovie are able to separate themselves by best leveraging the tech-based platforms and are often able to get more rapid buy in than those who are not as skillful in this area. It's one thing to have an idea. It's quite another to present in a such a way to get people to support you. Let's teach our kids the skills to gain support for their amazing ideas.
6. Entrepreneurial lab - As kids, the penalty for failure is low and the potential for success is unbelievably high. Given that the world we are living in is becoming more tech-enabled,the bulk of entrepreneurs and the companies they start will be tech-based. One of the great trends that the tech industry has helped facilitate is the rapid decline in the costs to launch a new idea and get feedback. Due to cloud hosting services like AWS, the modern day entrepreneur doesn't have to build his own network of servers, he can simply lease space on Amazon's servers. Since the barriers to entry are so low, it is the perfect playing field for kids to rapidly incubate their entrepreneurial endeavors. Not only will they learn how to develop their business concepts inexpensively but they will also gain great insight into all of the other aspects (sales, marketing, product development) that are essential to understand whether they choose to continue along their entrepreneurial path or whether they later opt into using their skills within a more established organization.
7. Technology community membership - Whether it is a shared language, belief, geography or perspective, community is one of the key structures to belonging and feeling welcome within modern day society. As technology continues its steady push toward becoming an integral part of society, there is a key circle of trust that is created amongst those who understand technology. While this isn't intended to be exclusionary, it's more of a recognition of you understand me and that commonality will help us move down a path of mutual understanding going forward. For the tech community to have evolved to a position of strength is quite impressive. Previously, programmers and developers were somewhat on the fringe and the image that emerged was the lonely developer coding in their parents dark, creepy basement surrounded by Diet Coke and empty pizza boxes. Nowadays, being technology savvy is extremely desirable and the community that is emerging is one where there is a shared belief that the world can be improved by developing creative solutions to the worlds most difficult problems. While there is still work to do as it relates to everyone feeling welcome, I believe that as more kids understand the benefits of technology they will increasingly become active participants in this community which will accelerate the inclusion in a community we can all be proud of.