The Generation Of The Uk Became The World For Mandate Computer Programming

The Generation Of The Uk Became The World For Mandate Computer Programming

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In 2014, the UK became the “first country in the world to mandate computer programming in primary and secondary schools”. Students will be taught how to program and other computer science related material up until at least the age of 16 (Curtis, 2014). This was somewhat of a paradigm shift in computing in British schools. Prior to introduction of the new curriculum, students were taught mostly basic computer-usage skills: how to use basic computer applications such as word processors and email. This sort of education is no longer needed, at least not at the level it was in the recent past. Most children today are able to pick up such basic skills, like typing and web browsing, by themselves. In fact, according to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report, “six year olds claim to have the same understanding of communications technology as 45 year olds” (Ofcom, 2014). But do children really need to “know how to code”? What does it even mean to be able to “code”? Coding is a popular word used to refer to programming, which is giving a computer a set of instructions, in the form of unambiguous commands, telling it to perform a certain task or set of tasks. In this essay I will argue that children should know how to code, and furthermore, they should have a good understanding of computer science. I will give various reasons supporting this argument while also providing some reasons counter to this argument.
Teaching children to code, or moreover computer science, provides them with skills that are in great demand in the UK. The significant STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills shortage in the UK risks slowing down economic recovery (Wall, 2014). According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), 39% of employ...

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...tates are at risk of “computerisation” (Benedikt Frey, Osborne, 2013). As this change occurs, there will be a greater demand for people trained to work on machines and computer systems and a slump in demand for those who are trained to do what a computer can now do better than they can. This will expand the STEM skills gap and bring about a change in what skills people need to be employable. Teaching children these computing-centric skills now, like how to code, will ensure that they have the best future and that the world has the workforce it needs to support its shift to even greater computer dependence. It is arguable whether a STEM skills gap actually exists, however, even if it does not at present, a future where even more jobs are replaced by computers will certainly contribute to such a gap being formed. For these reasons, children do need to know how to code.

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