An increasing number of countries have begun to teach their students how to code with the objective of developing creators of digital content, and not just consumers of content, thus empowering their creativity and critical thinking. Programming is a word that can sound boring to anyone, but you get a completely different reaction when you ask a ten-year-old child if he would like to create his own apps. Especially video games!
Without a doubt, the future is all about technology. Generally, in Europe there isn’t as much vocation for technology and engineering careers that are perceived as boring and difficult. Bill Gates addressed a message to kids in the U.S. to encourage them to study computer programming, and that they should consider this above other careers, such as being a professional athlete or Disney star. “Hey kids! Forget trying to become a doctor or rapper or a football star, not to mention all the teasing you may get in school for being a nerd – computers are where it’s at.”
The organization Code.org hopes to get U.S. schools to teach this skill, as only one in every 10 teaches computer programming, a number that the organization believes is insufficient. There are kids that have known what they want to do when they grow up ever since they can remember, and end up becoming what they dreamed of being when they still couldn’t even do multiplication. If they want to be doctors, they can focus their education on the sciences; if music inspires them, they can take classes on musical theory; but, what if they want to be programmers?
Code.org demands that more software engineers be trained. They say that only 2.4% of graduates today in their country know how to code – a percentage that is lower than a decade ago – and yet they have twice as many opportunities to find work than the average college student.
Large businesses, such as Google, support this British initiative. Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, claims that the for the majority of people on the earth the digital revolution hasn’t even begun yet, and that in the next 10 years all that is going to change. “Let’s get the whole world coding!” he said.
Schmidt is right: the video game market will grow by 47% worldwide by 2016, which is why getting into this developing field would offer excellent job prospects. Perhaps European countries should listen to this advice because the number of schools that teach programming doesn’t even come close to the miniscule percentage of the U.S. In Europe.
Kids are constantly surfing the Internet without knowing how to write a program. They spend a lot of time playing video games without having the least idea of how their favorite video game is made.
“In order to teach a programming class, there would have to be a joint project lead by the professors, and it would have to be taught in physics and math. There isn’t time to devise it, such as in Finland, and when you close the door to the classroom, it is the teacher’s kingdom,” said Angeles Araguz, a teacher at a high school in Vallecas, Spain.
Despite this, the Department of Computer Science at the University of Valladolid is offering classes every Monday to 18 children ages eight to thirteen who want to learn Scratch, a completely free platform, so they can create online video games. There are increasingly more cities that are organizing classes such as these so that the ideas that are captured on paper can be developed on the computer. They draw on t all their ideas online, and their characters begin to be independent and move.
“When they are able to paint a simple object, or make their cat meow, they get excited”, says Belen Palop, the coordinator for the Scratch course. “Personal robotics will soon be part of daily life in our homes, and didactic educational robotics is the first step of this revolution that is starting,” adds Toni Ferrate, founder of the company RO-BOTICA. Meanwhile, while the educational systems are debating, arguing, or throwing out the idea of teaching programming to their adolescent students, those who are interested have access to 10 different platforms for learning how to code by themselves, offering an endless amount of opportunities in their learning.