Should your kid start coding?

Not long ago, most people though that programming is only for geeks that weren’t good at sports, but nowadays if you can code, you’re a rock star.

It’s fascinating to me that coding gains more ground at the same time as trends as #YOLO and #SWAG. But if I think about it, in all human history there were people at both ends of the spectrum, so it’s not something strange, but it still fascinates me.

Jeff Atwood wrote an article that talks about the fact that programming is becoming mainstream.

Look, I love programming. I also believe programming is important … in the right context, for some people. But so are a lot of skills. I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would urge everyone to learn plumbing. That’d be ridiculous, right?


Please don’t advocate learning to code just for the sake of learning how to code. Or worse, because of the fat paychecks. Instead, I humbly suggest that we spend our time learning how to …

  • Research voraciously, and understand how the things around us work at a basic level.
  • Communicate effectively with other human beings.

Erik Dietrich takes it a step further and he says that we should learn to recognize a process that can be automated.

Learn at least to recognize which parts of your job are a poor use of your time. After that, perhaps learn to use your ingenuity and creativity to automate using the tools that you know (such as googling for solutions, leveraging apps, etc). And, if you’ve come that far, maybe it’s time to roll up your sleeves and take the plunge into learning to code a little bit to help you along.

I agree with both of them (otherwise I wouldn’t have quoted them), but I think Erik has covered only a niche of the programming world. Sure, automation is important and to recognize when you should use it is vital, but if I were to build a game, I wouldn’t go through a lot of repetitive tasks. Automation would not be essential.

I am not a teacher, but I like working with kids and when I discovered I started telling every kid I knew about this course. For a year and a half, I tried the 20 hour intro course with about a dozen of kids. Some thought it was great, some thought it was too hard and some thought it was too easy. I figured that at the end, not a lot of them would stick with programming, but my surprise was when even the ones that loved the course, told me that they had better things to do or they didn’t have the time.

For a moment I forgot how I was when I was their age. Easily enthusiastic about a lot of things and easily distracted by others. Of course, there is a big possibility that I didn’t know how to inspire them or how to share my enthusiasm.

I only hope that my efforts started a little fire in at least one kid and that some day he would embrace this awesome passion.

To sum it all up, if you don’t know if programming is for you or your kids, ask yourself/the kids the following statements:

  1. Do you understand simple logic? – “If I’m hungry, I should eat.”
  2. Are you curious about how things work and do you try to understand them?
  3. Do you get that computers are “stupid” and you should tell them exactly what to do?
    • Me: “Computer, give a an example about how you should be very specific when asking a computer to do stuff.”
    • Computer: “??? Here are the latest videos with funny cats.”
  4. Do you want to build stuff? – “I want to build an app that notifies me every time my hamster is out of food.”

What do you guys think? Are there any questions I should add on my list?