Code: Your future kids will laugh at you.
What will we be asking our kids to do for us on the computer?
You ever have to show your parent how to use their phone? Or take them step by step through saving a word document? Or assure them that there is no danger to sending an email on the internet all the while gritting your teeth in hope that your patience holds long enough to tell your friends what you've had to go through and have a hearty laugh about it together? I wonder will that dynamic exist between me and my kids?
Born to be swiped
I look at toddlers expertly navigating their way through iPads and smart phones with ease. These devices are their playthings and FaceTime is more normal than the radio, literally. They're not going to have trouble saving a word file. Technology and the internet are as normal to them and the telephone was to me growing up. Actually, a look more normal. I had no idea how to use the phone as a toddler. I had a smiley red one with wheel but that's not relevant.
The computing world that began exploding into existence in the 1990's to become the network connected society that we live in today is their norm. All the knowledge of humanity on a computer at their fingertips from birth. It only makes sense that coding is now being thought to children as young as five. Coding is the art of telling a computer how to perform complex tasks. If you master this skill the only limit to what you can achieve with a computer is your imagination (something which five year olds have no lack of).
I'll never let go, app
The way most of us currently use computers is by using a software that tells it what to do. A third person has come along, written a software (for a small fee) and our lives are easier. This will be different in the coming zeitgeist. They will become the middle men and women and be the ones telling their computers what to do. "I've got an app for that" will become "I've development an app for that." "Let's create a class Facebook" will be "Let's create a class webpage" and a cavalcade of problems will be fixed by their knowledge of software development. The thought of needing a third party for these menial tasks will be laughable for them.
Don't look at me like a travel agent!
Of course app, software and website developers already exist but these skills while, at present, rare will become humdrum. Much the same as people once paid someone to plan their vacations abroad (their accommodation, sites to see, method of transport etc.) because they had no way of looking that kind of thing up for themselves. One occupation that has suffered hugely in the past five years has been that of the travel agent. Can you imagine spending money for someone to tell you things you can easily Google? That is how our future offspring will look at us, like travel agents.
It is nothing but imperative that our kids receive the best possible education. The problem will not be them knowing to much, it will be us not knowing enough. If you can't stand the thought of being looked at like a travel agent then it's time to get your geek on and have a look at some of the many YouTube tutorials on software, website and app development through coding and keep up with your future kids. It's not about learning to become programmers, it's about putting ourselves in the frame of mind that will let us think the way they do and the way that our kids will. Computer programmers think in a way that allows them to strip a problem down to its core, into many small pieces and rebuild it into a working solution. This will be the method of thought of the future and those who do not think that way are going to be asking their kids how to save a word file.
Irish readers may take solace in the fact that our public schools have made no real step to introduce this kind of teaching yet. Perhaps there would be room if we ditched Irish (an all but dead language) or religious studies (an all but hilarious joke). But both are a blog for another time.
Do take care. Please convey any thoughts to me on twitter @iandonegan