Creating with technology starts with thinking human
This screenshot comes from an article on code.org – see the full video here.
The quote was dug up two years after Steve Jobs passed away and was something said in passing back in the ’80s. It got me thinking about coding and the push for all students to learn coding. Yes, we are surrounded by an app world where more and more industries are being disrupted and radically transformed by software or as Marc Andreessen (co-founder of Netscape) put it ‘Software is swallowing the world‘.
Adopting this mindset that in our near future everyone will be coding so therefore everyone must learn the skill as to not slip behind when they hit the employment market seems short sighted.
If, from an educational point of view, the push is purely on the software side what happens to the hardware side? Are we saying that software is always the answer and how we use software now is the best way. I’m starting to disagree and this line of needing to ‘learn to code above all else’ is wearing a bit thin for me.
Teaching computational thinking and coding is one part of preparing students for this unknown fast paced future but the same emphasis is needed to teaching students how to think human. Yes exposure to coding (as a skill) is important but not any more important than other skills and literacies.
Jobs are being automated at a rapid rate however they still fail to compete with human interaction. We need to shift the focus to the combination of computational thinking infused with human thinking and social skills – such as empathy.
I propose another approach that encompasses learning about how technology works along with how to create with it as a tool for possibility. Lets quit the coding for codings sake.
Nurturing curiosity in a classroom context where ideas can be explored, absent of fear of failure and supported, students can begin to be real creators with technology, not just consumers of another paint-by-numbers exercise. As a creator students must think of the user, even if that might solely be themselves. Students immediately begin to look at things a little different opening the door for students to question how we are using it in the first place or why we’re doing ‘this’ and when it can be as simple as ‘that’- that space where really interesting innovation can spring from.
Now that’s my kinda classroom.