Schools and businesses are pushing to have children introduced to programming earlier as demand is increasing for computer programmers nationwide. From software programming to mobile application development, companies are looking for software experts both now and for the future.
The map of the United States is dotted with schools and districts eager to teach kids computer coding. In Massachusetts, Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill has launched a new program this year to teach computer coding to students, beginning with upperclassmen and eventually expanding downward to 6th graders, according to Callum Borchers of Boston Globe.
Beaver Country Day plans to integrate coding into all of its subjects rather than teaching it as a standalone course. The school is experimenting with uses not only in math and science classes, but even in English and art.
It’s no surprise that another school in Massachusetts is pursuing coding and computer science, as the state has become a hub for education technology start-ups influencing the schools around them. Many large, established technology companies are also urging the state to make computer science classes available in every school system. The Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network, a coalition that includes tech giants Google and Microsoft, was formed in the spring to help the state education department provide more computer science to interested students in all school systems.
Heather Carey, executive director of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council’s Education Foundation, is enthusiastic about schools introducing computer coding. According to Carey, she is “super interested in schools who are thinking creatively about how to introduce computing concepts into their classes.”
And just as people learn their first spoken languages through immersion, Beaver students will pick up coding languages similarly, without structured lessons.
“A lot of what we’ve been talking about is using it when it’s organic, and just having students and teachers keep an eye out for those moments,” said MacDonald, the math department chairman who is leading the coding effort. “So if there’s somebody in the room who’s already got some skills who can jump in and share that with the class, that’s great. If the students need some new tools to do the coding work, we can teach them on the fly.
Mitchell Chester, commissioner of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said that it is not possible for every school to offer a selection of computer science-related courses and has “advocated sprinkling coding lessons into the classes schools already teach.”
“Any time you’re asking schools to do something they don’t already do, you’re talking about adding new infrastructure, hiring another teacher, adding an expense,” Chester said. “So any time you can integrate new skills into an existing curriculum, it’s more attainable.”