The 21st Century Language: Should K12 Schools Teach Coding?

In yesterday’s blog, I quoted stats from the article “How Corporations Are Helping to Solve the Education Crisis” that show 80% of the jobs created over the next decade will require mastery of technology, math, and science. More jobs are welcome in our economy, however, there is worry that there won’t be a skilled enough workforce to takeover these jobs. Students’ mastery of STEM subjects is not as impressive as the growth of STEM jobs, and both educators and corporations have a responsibility to make sure students are receiving the education to benefit from the job creation.

In New York City, Scott Schawaitzberg, vice president of Activate, is working with a team to build a new kind of high school. The Academy for Software Engineering will be a public, 9-12 grade school that serves 500 students. The school hopes to teach the “art and science of coding” to students who might not otherwise consider a career as an engineer or financially have the opportunity to consider it, according to the article “Will Teaching Kids How to Write Software Help Fix Young America?” The school also hopes to connect students with technology companies through mentorships and internships.

Schools must adjust to the changing economy, but not all of them have the ability to start from the ground up like the Academy of Software Engineering. Schools in Baltimore are responding to the demands of STEM education with a holistic after-school approach. Volunteer technologists train teachers in new technology and the teacher’s gain professional development. Those teachers then teach the new tech skills to students in an after-school program. Then, students go to another school, as the trained technologist, and train a new group of teachers, according to “Closing the Loop Between Students, Teachers, and Technologists.” This approach creates community, gives students real-world experience in a tech field, and creates an opportunity for teachers to learn the tech skills they will undoubtedly need in their teaching career.

If your school doesn’t offer a programming class, there is free programming software available for kids, like Scratch. Tina Barseghian of Mind/Shift has a great article “How Do We Prepare Our Children for What’s Next?” that details the benefits of teaching programming and other practices educators or parents can introduce to their kids.

What are your favorite low-or no-budget tech tools to use in class or home?  What learning can complement tech tools and interests?  LifeBound’s book CRITICAL AND CREATIVE THINKING is available on the Nook, the Kindle and soon to be on the iPad.  How can you promote complimentary skills which will enhance learning technology and other cross-curricular core competencies with your children or your students?

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Sources:

“Will Teaching Kids How to Write Software Help Fix Young America?” by Alex Fitzpatrick. 25 March 2012. Mashable. Accessed on 26 March 2012. http://mashable.com/2012/03/25/teaching-kids-write-software/ 

Closing the Loop Between Students, Teachers, and Technologists,” by Tina Barseghian. 8 March 2012. Mind/Shift. Accessed on 9 March 2012. http://mindshift.kqed.org/2012/03/linking-students-teachers-and-technologists/

“How Corporations Are Helping to Solve the Education Crisis,” by Judah Schiller and Christine Arena. 23 March 2012. Fast Company, Accessed on 23 March 2012. http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679529/how-corporations-are-helping-to-solve-the-education-crisis

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