Earlier this week, an article came out in the Globe and Mail entitled, “Coding for kids: another silly fad
”. The author argues that while coding is the basis for giving instructions for a computer that most of us do not have to learn it any more than you have to understand an engine to drive a car or indoor plumbing to use a toilet.
The writer then goes on to argue that the technology industry is always striving for simpler ways to deliver complex technologies
. So, ultimately, people will only need to have a vision for a mobile application and then it will be magically built. We believe that this view of the importance of learning to code is misguided.
Consumers vs. Creators
The author is correct, one does not have to understand how an engine works in order to drive a car or how indoor plumbing works in order to use a toilet. However, driving a car and using the bathroom are both consumption based activities. You most certainly need to understand how an engine works if you want to design, develop and manufacture automobiles. In fact, if no one had ever taken the time to understand how an engine works, we would not have vehicles that are able to take us to and from our destinations. In addition, the level of innovation that is required to improve fuel efficiency, make our vehicles safer, reduce the environmental impact requires both a system and sub-system level understanding of engineering. So, if we expect in a future state of the world that we only want our children to be consumers of innovation vs. creators then they do not need to understand coding. However, we believe that understanding the wonderful world of technology from the perspective of a creator will pay huge dividends for our children going forward.
The articles states that the technology industry constantly striving for improvements. However, the author seems to be disconnected from the responsibility for that innovation and the resulting outcome. It is rather simplistic to assume that advances in technology are equally distributed across the population. Technology companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google are heavily focused on innovation to drive their product development efforts. As a result of these investments, these companies continue to grow market share and deliver superior value to their customers. When Google first launched in 1998, there were many search engines that were seeking market leadership in this crowded space. So, the vision for how to organize and disseminate information easily on the web was obvious. Where the true value came in was how the founders of Google relentlessly executed upon that vision. They understood the intricacies of how to give instructions to the computers in such a way that searches performed on Google would deliver superior results than those of their competitors. This level of insight and product based execution only comes from those who have taken the time to study and perfect the craft of technology-based development. In modern times, one can argue that template based website platforms like Wix and Squarespace allow one to simply execute on their vision. However, what most people find is that ultimately these templates can be limiting. And, so that requires diving into an understanding of web design to truly take their vision to the next level. This is also why these platforms have seamlessly incorporated the ability for developers to go beyond the constraints of the walled gardens should they have the capabilities.
All around the world, there are thousands of other problems that are waiting for superior first principle solutions to be developed. We are excited to work with the next generation of problem solvers to develop that acumen.