Computer Question: Don’t focus on coding

The Vernon PC Users' Club looks at whether or not kids should be learning how to code

We need to teach all of our kids to code. Really? It seems we are hearing this opinion expressed more often these days which is not surprising given that more and more things, commonplace things that we use every day, invoke some computer code.

But does this justify changing our elementary school curricula to include subject mastery of the C++ programming language? We all use a toilet every day, but this doesn’t mean that we need to know the organic chemistry of sewage treatment systems.

Learning to write a simple computer program that works can be satisfying and fun, but it takes a person with great patience and tolerance to high levels of frustration to develop complex and efficient software.

Certainly learning the basics of how a computer works and how it differs from a handheld calculator by being able to make a decision by comparing the value of two variables, perform operations repetitively, reformat data and many other operations is valuable to one living in today’s society.

Learning how to program it do all this is a skill that is a natural next step after gaining this basic understanding, and can lead to an interesting and rewarding career. But it’s a big step. So by all means for the kids let’s focus on computer appreciation, not coding, and weight it the same as courses in the humanities and sciences that can lead to other great jobs.

The Vernon PC Users’ Club meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Schubert Centre in the cafeteria. Call Betty at 542-7024 or Grace at 549-4318 for more information.