Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Is coding the new Latin?

I hear that people think people (other people, especially children) should learn to 'code'. It seems to me that 'code' is code for something that people value but don't understand, don't understand what you would do with it but that it has some intrinsic value that makes it worth people learning.

Once upon a time Latin and Greek were the thing, and in recent times mathematics and a second language were the thing, but now the new Latin seems to be coding.

I am not opposed to people learning Latin, mathematics, a second language or how to write code. However I value all of these things for their own worth, despite that they have, for most people, little utility except for their intrinsic beauty and the agility they give to the mind that masters them. I value the ability to learn, to think logically, to work hard beyond one's comfort zone and these all fit the bill nicely. Occasionally they may prove useful but that isn't why I value them.

However, like all good personal beliefs, I don't hold with foisting them on other people and forcing other people, especially children, to learn them. You want to speak Sindarin or Klingon? Go ahead. You want to learn the minute detail of minecraft commands? Go ahead. There is joy to be found in learning for the sake of learning.

Is coding the new Latin. Sadly I think it is.




  1. I was surprised to read this. I see coding as the new international language and, like being able to speak English, it opens doors to all sorts of places. Why wouldn't we give every child the opportunity to learn the basics (amazing what you can do with a bit of html and css)?

    1. I think that the opportunity to learn coding is already there. The fragment of attached minecraft command was generated by mr14 using his own initiative and the tools available on the web. Both my kids have done coding at school as part of their computing/technology electives. I think the opportunities are already there. What I object to is the bandwagon that turns coding from an opportunity into something that is mandated and politicised and blown out of proportion. Our kids need to learn literacy and numeracy and how to think, and there is no one thing more important than another. We have schools whose mission is to achieve just that thing. Let's give them more resources and good leadership and community engagement. Let's not get sidetracked by focussing on a single, silver bullet such as coding.

      Thanks for your comment, and happy to agree to disagree :)