May
13
2013

Obfuscated solution

According to Code.org this is the year everyone should learn to code. If this isn’t your year then it should be the next one or the next one, but most importantly, you should learn to code. Why you might ask? Well the video claims you will be tomorrows rock stars, you will change the world, solve problems, get all the millions of jobs being created especially for you and perhaps most importantly, receive free lunches at work.

They have the backing of some pretty big players in the tech world, from Microsoft and Facebook to Twitter and Valve. They claim that as companies they are crying out for more coders and that may well be very true, not like they have a vested interest or anything….

I have a big problem with this (and yes as a coder technically I too have a vested interest going on here). The problem is I don’t think coders are the solutions to the problems they talk about and to the problems we face in the future, I think people who can think are.

I will let you into the big secret that this video seems to avoid…. there are both good coders and bad coders. The fact that a bad coder can still code is evidence enough that code is not the final answer or even really, half the solution.

We live in an ever more complex world where problems and solutions are becoming so complex that implementing the solution has become the simplest bit. The hard part is understanding what the problem is and figuring old how to solve it. Now I get that learning to code can teach these things. It teaches you to break problems down, to focus on the system while at the same time drilling down into the specifics etc but it is not the only way to teach this, nor does it feel like the way that will reach the most people.

The reality is trying to encourage people to learn to code is the same as trying to get everyone to learn mathematics in the past. Yeah it is some way towards your goal of problem solving, but you won’t appeal to the people that need this most. The people this appeals to will already be coding anyway. Why not simply give people problems that need solving and then let them get on an actually try? Point them in a direction and see what happens. Let them find their own way into learning and then they can take some joy in it instead of being force fed whatever solution works for a few.

I once did a subject called maths. I hated it and found it complicated. Then a few years later I did a subject called reasoned programming. That on the other hand was great. The difference? The name.

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