It’s no secret that technology is rapidly and constantly changing. In the past decade alone, the United States has witnessed technological advances that have altered our very way of life — from the iPhone to countless social media platforms to instant streaming via Netflix and Hulu. Knowing this, one would think that computer programming and coding are becoming fundamental elements to the American educational system. However, such an assumption is unfortunately wrong.
Although computing is involved in nearly every aspect of our lives, it is rare to find an American high school that offers classes in computer science. This is often because teachers who are trained in the art of computer science are few and far between.
Thankfully, Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities, is working diligently to change that. Since its inception in 2013, Code.org has reached nearly 600,000 teachers across the country, giving them the opportunity to teach introductory courses in schools that were otherwise devoid of technology-based curriculum.
Expanding a child or teenager’s skillset to encompass computer programming is proven to lead to greater educational and professional success in the future. After all, the fundamentals of computer science are critical, computational thinking and problem-solving — two skills that are crucial to anyone living and working in the 21st century.
However, the benefits to increasing access to computer science courses do not end there. Given technology’s ubiquitous nature, the principles of computer science are now considered to be foundational — much akin to mathematics, reading, and writing. So, even if a student who takes a course in computer science has no interest in studying the field in college, they will be equipped with the fundamentals of digital literacy that are required to navigate everyday life.
Furthermore, an extensive background in computer programming and coding gives students a competitive edge — especially in their search for a job post-graduation. As the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field is expanding and embracing diversity, it’s projected that there will be over 500,000 new job openings within the next several years alone — with 71 percent of those jobs specializing in computing.
Evidently, there is an urgent need to increase the size of and train the next generation of computer scientists. In order to achieve this feat, organizations like Code.org will need public support via donations and requesting their courses to be taught in schools nationwide. If you’re interested in aiding their cause, visit their website here.