Dr Mark Williams Neuroscience Professor Author Speaker Facilitator
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Dr Mark Williams Neuroscience Professor Author Speaker Facilitator
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Dr Mark Williams Neuroscience Professor Author Speaker Facilitator

Why teaching kids coding is a waste of time and money

Coding is now part of the curriculum in many schools. And if your child isn’t taught coding as part of normal classes there are dozens of after school programs available for kids as young as 2 years of age. And the reason given: to future proof our kids. But is that really a good reason to start your kid in coding classes rather than soccer or piano?


Future proof your kids

The problem with this idea is that we don’t actually know what the future is going to be like. And in fact, some people suggest that coding jobs will either be very limited or non-existent in the near future. For example, with the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) computers will actually be able to program themselves. I have also heard that several companies are working on programs that allow you to create a program or code with normal grammar. The program then converts the normal grammar to computer code. No need for coding! So there goes that theory.

Jobs of the future

There is also an argument that the majority of jobs in the future will require you to at least understand coding. The problem with this argument is that according to DataUSA, the number of people employed as software developers, applications & systems software in the US reached 1.36 million in 2017. That is less than 1 percent of the working population and that was at its peak. These jobs are now falling! See, the problem is jobs in coding are moving to Asia very quickly! So if you live in China or India learning coding for future job prospects is potentially a good idea. Otherwise, it should be avoided.


What jobs will be available in the future?

The health profession is a growing market and will continue to grow. It is very unlikely that automation will take many jobs from this sector. And with people living longer there will be a greater and greater need for health professionals in all areas. These jobs range from doctors and nurses to age carers and fitness instructors. And of course, teachers at all levels will never be superseded by automation.

What should kids be learning?

Did you know that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are reported to have raised their kids technology free! And schools that limit technology are in demand in the silicon valley. Why? Because people in the Tech Industry realise that the next big invention or leap forward won’t come from somebody who is great at coding. It will come from someone who is curious, inquisitive, adaptive, resilient and social. And jobs of the future will need people with these qualities. These are the skills we need to teach our kids. They won’t be learnt while sitting in a class learning how to code. They will be learnt by playing sport, climbing trees, learning a musical instrument, playing imaginative games with their friends and interacting in the real world.
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All the best!
Dr Mark Williams
Neuroscience Professor, Author, Speaker & Facilitator

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  1. Kathryn says:

    Food for thought.

  2. Peter Scammell says:

    The fixation with computers (technology) as the only way forward is fraught with difficulties. You have talked about future proofing the kids from the point of view of job security and the problems with predicting future demands. However, I have wider social concerns, some of which you have alluded to in previous posts. Things such as the diminution of social skills, confusing the screen with reality and so on, are beginning to be addressed. We are handing over to the computer, control of our lives to such an extent that I fear the very concept of personal responsibility is becoming a thing of the past. If I were to describe all the examples from my own experiences alone, this comment would be intolerably extensive and probably alas, boring. Perhaps a couple of examples at the extremes may serve to make my point.
    FIRSTLY: Boeing Corporation is currently grappling with the disasters of two recent crashes with well over 300 lives lost, hundreds of planes grounded, airlines going broke and thousands out of work. It is likely that a computer malfunction caused the planes to dive and by design the pilots could not override it. How many times have we heard people say, ‘these modern planes can fly themselves’?
    SECONDLY: The mad rush for driver-less cars is supposedly for the purpose of taking the responsibility of safe behaviour on the roads away from the driver. Even the act of giving another driver a courteous ‘thank you ‘ wave for letting us into the que, would become superfluous as it would no longer have meaning.
    Once all responsibility is taken out of our hands we will have anarchy, driven by self programming computers. Perhaps by then the most ‘in demand’ profession will be criminal psychology.

  3. Mark says:

    Hi Peter,

    Interesting points. I think we are running headlong into many potential issues without thinking enough about the consequences.


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