Learn Programming, Darnit!

Jun 29

I'm convinced that if my seven year old does not learn to program now, before he turns 8, he will be homeless before he's thirty.

Okay, I'm not, but sometimes I act like I am. I can't help it, I've fully bought into the idea that computational thinking is this hugely valuable skill, like arithmatic, and everyone should have it so if my kid doesn't than OH GOD HE'S GOING TO LIVE UNDER A BRIDGE!

Which is a little extreme, I'm sure that American companies will start investing in worker dormitories for their minimum wage employees before fry cooks end up on the streets. But still, it's a grim future in my head for a boy who cannot throw out a runner at second and can't program computers. Which I admit is stupid, there are plenty of viable career paths that involve neither of those skills, but even so, understanding branches and loops and stuff can't be a bad thing. So I've loaded up the Highlander's iPad with programming games, games where winning == coding.

One of these has a world builder, so that you can construct your own puzzles that you then have to solve. So rather than solve the problems himself, he's delighting in giving me problems to solve. Then I build a much easier puzzle for him and he tries to solve that, and so on. And what occurred to me is that, while he isn't learning a lot of coding right now, he is learning TDD and a little bit about pairing, which I didn't intend at all.

Realizing that has helped me to relax a little bit about his interest level in the various games and his progress through them. Because even for adult programmers, there has to be an element of fun… not shallow fun, but deep fun, the kind of fun that makers get when they start making things. When I'm struggling, and I can't make something, I get upset too, and sometimes I have to walk away from the problem.

Anyway, he's interested, and tomorrow he goes to a camp with a 3-D printer. I can't wait to hear about that!