Below is a speech I gave at a Toastmasters International club on January 2017.
Last Thanksgiving, I asked a dozen kids who are between 5 to 9 year-old: What are you thankful for? I expected to hear family, friends, food or vacation. Instead they all came up with this answer. Can you guess? Electronics! You cannot believe how enthusiastic they were when they shared with me the love toward their Playstation, Xbox, ipad, smart phone and computer.
Nowadays, kids are connected 24/7. They constantly chat, browse media and play games online. They are expert consumer of technology. It’s not surprising since we are surrounded by technology and we all have become dependent. We communicate, bank, search/share information, book flight/car ride/restaurant…
But! Very few children will be able to understand the basic on how these machines are run. Even Fewer will be involved in creating them especially since 90% of US schools don’t teach computer of science today.
That’s why I would like to share with you 3 reasons parents should consider having their children learn computer programming aside from job security and a high paying salary.
Learn life skills
People think that programming is just writing lines and lines of code but it’s really more like creating a cooking recipe. Programming is truly an expression of creativity that involves plenty of diverse skills:
– Taking an idea and turning it into a fully functional project helps kids to have a sense of process design (build, test, refine).
– Breaking down the complexity into simple parts helps them improve problem solving and organization skills.
– Finding and fixing bugs in the face of frustration when things aren’t going well require persistence (learning to not giving up), precision (a tiny mistake can prevent the entire program front running).
– Programming also helps kids to become more ambitious as they want to improve and expand what they have built while not settling for the minimum.
– Programming also involves math and logic which could help their academics.
Along with learning life skills, the second reason to learn programming is that it will…
…Build their confidence
Here’s why. Children see technology in their everyday life and have no idea how it works.
When they get exposed to programming, they slowly develop a better sense of how machine works and how they could be involved as a technology producer instead of just a consumer. Realizing that they have the potential to help people through technology is very empowering and builds their confidence.
The 3rd reason revolves around humanity.
In today’s society, there is a misconception of the programmer who is someone very quiet, lacking of social skills, working alone, and in the dark for very long hours. Not completely false but programmers have to interact and collaborate with many people to get their work done. Great things are achieved when smart people collaborate.
Learning programming encourages kids to challenge each other, explain to others about their thoughts, find common ground, and ultimately create ideas together.
The best part is that learning to program has been made much more intuitive and fun. I have been experimenting with these new methods and online platforms and it works! It is such a delight. They are fully engaged and smile when they see their own program run and that’s what it is all about.
To summarize, learning programming can be seen as a vehicle to learn other skills such as creativity, logic, problem solving, organization. Better understanding of the digital world they are living in can build their confidence. Finally programming can expose them to collaboration in their early years.
We have the opportunity to take advantage of kids’ passion,sorry addiction, for electronics and introduce them to computer programming through exciting and collaborative activities. Once they get a hang of it they will realize their potential and the infinite possibilities that are only limited by their imagination.