Educators and tech thinkers believe that in this emerging world, children need exposure to computational thinking, the thought processes involved in formulating problems and solutions in ways that computers can effectively execute. It is also about developing skills to deal with any open-ended problem across disciplines, be it maths, science or humanities, and to be ready for the jobs of the future.
‘The Future of Jobs Report’ by the World Economic Forum predicts that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
“A majority of the jobs are soon going to be something that requires algorithmic thinking and programming skills. Algorithmic thinking is nothing but learning to structure one’s own thoughts,” says Bharat Divyang, an IITian who runs ZugZwang Academy, which initiates children into programming.
US magazine Wired, which focuses on emerging technologies, reports that a simple version of Scratch, a block-based visual programming language developed by MIT, is being widely taught to five and six-year-olds in UK primary schools as part of the national curriculum for computing classes.
In India, both CBSE and ICSE boards have introduced programming as part of their computer science course, but the course is optional for most schools. While CBSE students of classes 6, 7 and 8 are initiated into coding basics of Visual Basic and HTML, ICSE students learn the basics of Java and C language in classes 9 and 10.
“In the US and Europe, the talk is that everybody should learn coding. We can do that in India too. Computer languages are becoming high-level due to which you can generate code by simply moving objects and connecting them. The machine will then generate the actual code,” says Ravi Venkatesan, Unicef’s special representative for young people and former Microsoft India chairman.
Coding is becoming as important as math and science because it is creative and improves your logical thinking, says Ankush Chugh, founder and CEO of Dcoder, a mobile coding platform.
Beas Dev Ralhan, co-founder of Hyderabad-based smart learning solutions provider Next Education, points out that there is a difference between learning computers and learning computer science. “HTML or Java programming or even learning to open an email or FB account essentially gets divided between IT skills and ‘software coolie’ creed of things. Whereas thinking about problems computationally and being able to design problems to be solved by computers is what computer science is about,” he says.
Indian parents are warming up to the idea of their children acquiring programming skills. Several firms today enable that through unconventional methods. ZugZwang trains students, aged 4-5, in wooden puzzles like Towers of Hanoi, before initiating them into LightBot, a puzzle game that secretly teaches programming logic as you play. The focus is on developing a child’s fluid intelligence, or the ability to deal with problems you have never come across.
Next Education has a coding game, Koda, based on block-based programming designed by MIT. Koda enables children to design their own games, helping them also to learn how to code and develop a computational mindset.
Ramesh Loganathan, professor of practice, co-innovations at IIIT-Hyderabad, says the institute conducts a computational thinking programme for schoolchildren during summers where they consciously avoid teaching any programming, as learning programming is like learning a language, which can be picked up anytime in life. “We help them detect patterns, how to understand problems and solve them,” he says.
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1 Comment on this Story
Nir383 days ago
Should be considered as one of as one languages required to pass a grade starting with elementary school but do we have enough good teachers?