Teaching technology to young children
I received an email where the person wrote: “The more I read your blog, the more I realized that we are so behind other countries. The more I know about technology changes and what is happening in the world, the more I worried about my children who are in the 6th grade and other children who may not have a job when they grow up. As parents, we do not know what to do; please advise.”
Answer: You are not alone, many people are worried about their children are being left behind in this fast changing world. With the accelerating pace of technological change, there will be many job losses due to automation. However, we can also view it as a challenge to overcome, and an opportunity to prepare our children for their future.
If every parent could spend more time with their children to encourage them to read more, to learn more about science and technology and get them more interested in these subjects, we have made the first step. Children need some guidance so they can make the right decision when they grow up. It is important for parents to know that all future skills require the ability to read, write, communication in a second language, and computer programming skills. The second step is to encourage young children to learn a second language such as English and learn how to program. Today computer programming is no longer for students who want careers in technology, but for all students regardless what they study. Computer programming is foundational for all careers in the future. Two decades ago, Steve Jobs told a group of young students: “computer science teaches you how to think. The algorithmic design aspect of programming can help you develop your problem-solving skills, so do not hesitate to learn about computer.” At that time many people considered that Mr. Jobs only wanted to sell “Apple computer” to students and failed to see his vision that it is critical for everybody to understand and learn about technology.
A few months ago, a person wrote to me: “Do not promote technology, not everybody will become a computer scientist or technologist.” I answered him: “Technology is part of our lives today, and it should be a field to be taught in every school. Today every school teaches biology and math even to students who did not plan to become biologists or mathematicians. In this technology-driven world, students need to learn how to design an algorithm, to create a simple app, or know how the internet works. These concepts are relevant in every career. Technology knowledge is not about something that may happen in the future; it is about the careers of today.
I believe many students want to learn about technology, but most of them do not have the opportunity. It is NOT part of the school curriculum yet, but it should because today every single industry is changing to focus more on technology. It is NOT an option for the education system ignore technology or programming course for students. It should be a part of the curriculum in every school.
If the school does not teach these skills, parents can encourage their children to learn computer science and programming by using many educational Websites on the Internet. My friends are using the KhanAcademy website for their children as they know that computer science opens the way to many future opportunities. Following are some websites that you may want to use: https://www.khanacademy.org/
- Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University