Why a programming language could be the most important language your child ever learns.
Being a dad of two young boys, I have thought a great deal about what the world will look like for them in the future. I want them to understand that no one owes you anything in this life, so work hard and be happy with what you receive. I also think that learning a second or third language will benefit them greatly.
I know that there could be much debate over what the most useful second language would be. Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Spanish... but have you ever thought about learning a programming language? This could perhaps be the most important language of all in the future.
I know, you might be saying my kid doesn’t seem like the geeky tech type. Really? If you own an iPad or smartphone, how long did it take your very young child to figure out how to use it and then act like they couldn’t live without it? My two boys were adopted from Russia at the ages of 2 and 3. It took them about two minutes to figure out how to punch in a numeric pass code and discover where the games were. They had never seen a smartphone, let alone interacted with one.
My point is that I think kids are naturally drawn to technology. Why not give them a head start on the job market and let them learn the basics of coding and a technology language? In my experience, not knowing how to code feels very much like not knowing how to type fast when I was in college. I would pay other students to type my papers for me.
The job market today is strong for individuals who are tech savvy, especially if you know your way around a database or backend codebase. I recently wrote an article about how a sixty year old programming language,
COBOL, is still relevant. If you own your own business it is likely that you will rely on technology and it may be imperative that you have some type of digital presence. More than likely you will need to hire someone who writes code. Even if you didn’t know the language your app or site is coded in, I think you will have a better understanding about what is required to produce and maintain your technology product.
I read an
article where kids in Chattanooga, Tennessee are learning about the basics of coding. In Chattanooga? Isn’t that a place in the south that would be more apt to teaching kids how to hunt, cook BBQ and when to wear camo? Apparently not. Several local technology groups located in Chattanooga sponsored the event.
A friend, Travis Truett, who has a successful
startup and got to go through the
Y Combinator program in Silicon Valley, suggested that teenagers should start on Python due to the fact that it’s powerful, clean, and easy to get something up and going. For younger kids, he felt that MIT’s
Scratch language was a great choice because it’s easy to pick up and a great way to learn logic.
Gene Richardson, the CIO at Experts Exchange, felt that Java is a great way to go. “With Java they would be able to create a web page, something they see and use everyday on the Internet.” Java is still a robust and stable codebase for many companies.
No matter what your opinion is on the best first code language to learn, any will open your child’s eyes to a whole new world, where the geeks have become rock stars and are highly sought after by every technology company in Silicon Valley and beyond. Besides, your son or daughter just might create the next app that changes the world and you can take a little of the credit.