In recent years, more schools are teaching programming and technology from a younger age. With rapid advancement in technology, the tech industry is a popular choice for future careers. However, we also hear about recent layoffs from large tech companies such as Amazon and Google [Source].
Considering all these, is technology and programming that important for our children’s future? We believe coding is important for our children to know, and we have compiled 5 reasons why our children should learn coding.
1. Rapid Growth in the Technology Sector
Information Technology (IT) is one of the top five highest paying sectors in Singapore 2016. Topping the list of high paying jobs, technology-related careers increasingly command top dollar, thanks to the Government’s push in the infocomm sector. Singapore’s Prime Minister has called for more focus on technology as part of the Smart Nation initiative. During his trip to San Francisco last week, Prime Minister shared that strong engineering capabilities will be needed to drive Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative. [Source].
With the Smart Nation Drive, Singapore will continue on its trajectory in going digital, sharing information that improves the quality of life (Eg. myTransport mobile app – making catching a bus a breeze, and passport renewal notifications). [Source]
2. Technology is pervasive in almost every industry
“Tech is also not limited to the tech sector. It’s ingrained in almost every modern business and across industries, from financial services and start-up space to aerospace, healthcare and travel.”
– CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun
Traditionally, digital technology has for many years been applied to imaging, design, education, manufacturing, supply chain and healthcare.
Today, apart from these industries, new uses for technology are sprouting, with FinTech (Financial Technology) being one of the hottest industries. (Eg. PayPal) [Source]
According to McKinsey, even the traditional construction industry is ripe for a digital disruption, with technology touted as the way to reduce cost, and ensure timely completion on schedule given the increasing complexity of such projects. [Source]
3. Technology Literacy Makes Children Smarter
Research by Tufts University showed that young children who learned coding significantly improved their sequencing skills, which in turn is known to help with reading comprehension [Source].
Similar to learning music, learning coding has now been proven to improve intelligence. Given that teaching coding to children only started in the recent three years, we can expect more research in this area to come [Source].
4.The right tools are now available to teach children coding
Commonly introduced only as a tertiary level subject for Engineering or IT undergraduates, the traditional programming curriculum was one with a very steep learning curve.
With the strong need to first understand the syntax (the grammar, punctuations and vocabulary) of the programming language, many an aspiring programmer has had sleepless nights debugging their code, only to realise that a simple error such as an extra bracket or a missing semi-colon would prevent the program from compiling.
Today, things have changed dramatically with the introduction of drag-and-drop programming software such as Scratch and App Inventor. Scratch, which is suitable for children aged 8-12, is an excellent introductory programming software while App Inventor allows development of actual mobile apps.
Instead of being bogged down by the syntax, children can now start as young as 7 and now go straight to the more important aspect of coding – the computational thinking behind algorithm.
DID YOU KNOW?
Learning coding is not just about learning to create programs that help us, but also about computational thinking and problem-solving skills. This is relevant to other subjects our children learn such as Mathematics and Science, and even our daily lives!
5.Get a head start at school
From 2017, 16-year-old students will be able to take programming as part of their O levels subjects. [Source]
This follows the trend globally, where many countries have started to introduce Computer Science as a compulsory subject starting from Elementary School.
In 2014, UK introduced compulsory computer science curriculum for children aged 5 to 16. Many parents are amazed by the tech vocabulary that their nursery-age kids are sprouting [Source]. By the age of seven, all children will now be expected to be capable of writing and debugging a simple program. By 11, some will be exploring concepts once considered appropriate for undergraduate [Source].
In Japan, computer programming will be a compulsory subject at primary school in 2020, with the aim of improving children’s ability to think logically and creatively [Source].
In Sep 2015, Australia announced that Coding will soon replace History and Geography under their revamped national curriculum. Australian students will begin coding at age 10 and computer programming at age 12 [Source].
Singapore, as well as the rest of the world, are continually digitalising, and technology will still be relevant and more present than ever in our everyday lives. Combined with the benefits that coding provides, we believe that every child should try out programming so that they can be aware how technology is being used around us!
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