Oliver Dunk

Oliver Dunk

22 years old, Developer Relations Engineer at Google

In Response to Jason Bradbury

As you probably already know if you're taking a look at my blog, I'm very enthusiastic about development and along with often writing programs myself I dedicate a fair amount of my time to mentoring younger children in order to teach them vital coding skills. In an article on site TrustedReviews, technology journalist Jason Bradbury made a statement which I personally find baffling: that the recent Government initiatives to educate our children in coding are a "complete waste of time".

I'm strongly compelled to write this article because it seems to be a move in the complete wrong direction. Nonetheless, I respect Jason and his work and following his follow-up on Twitter, will leave out any criticism of the "bad social skills" he initially claimed developers today possess.

The fundamental point of the article, as far as I can tell, is that in years to come his "kids won't need to code because soon computers will just code for them." While I don't know how much coding experience Jason has, I think the key misconception here is that coding is simply a task executed by either a human or a robot. The fact of the matter is, that while coding is necessary to write modern day applications, I think it's a more of a mind-set then a skill. It's about being able to break down a task into a number of smaller steps, and being able to write algorithms which could, for example, solve a Rubik's Cube when followed one by one. Even if a program can be written using "drag-and-drop and a little imagination," as Jason later alludes to, knowing how to efficiently break a task down into this steps is a fundamental skill which should, in my opinion, be taught without doubt.

Delving further into his reasoning, the second point Jason makes is that the future will "just be about being creative." He talks about the fact that what STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is missing is the art, the 'element of creativity'. I agree that this is extremely important, but I don't think this is all that is needed. As a rather specific example of this, many self-taught programmers take a formal course not because they don't have the creativity or understanding but because they lack the established rules which creative individuals have pieced together so that they don't have to. The axioms of development are already established and we should help to teach children how to do something in the generally accepted manor rather than simply in the way in which their mind wanders.

Hopefully this article explains my views clearly, and if you ever do read this Jason, I hope you see that I appreciate the need for creativity. My actual concern is the lack of acknowledgment of the actual discipline of coding itself. I'd love to know what you, and anyone reading this, have to say and I'm always available by email (oliver@oliverdunk.com) or Twitter (@oliverdunk_).