Learning to code is about more than career readiness. It’s about helping students make sense of their digital world

Ed. note: This year the editors selected ten stories we believe either highlighted an important issue in 2015 and/or signaled the beginning of an escalating trend or issue for 2016 (look for No. 1 on Dec. 31). This year coding was never far from the national conversation as states, districts, and classrooms took up the debate. In May, programmer Alice Steinglass with Code.org, which organizes the popular Hour of Code, issued her impassioned yet reasoned plea for every school and every student to learn the fundamentals of computer science as part of their education on the devices which will help shape their futures.

learn-to-code-orgRecently, there has been a lot of discussion around the importance of coding in the K-12 classroom. Should it be compulsory for all students? An elective? Reserved for those students considering a computer science major in college?

The answer may come down to supply and demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs and only 400,000 computer science students to fill those roles. This represents a gap of one million jobs that will go unfilled, and amounts to a $500 billion opportunity lost.

In 2015, when more and more schoolwork, from kindergarten up through college, is done in a digital environment, students need to know the fundamentals of how the system they are using functions. By incorporating coding and computer science into our schooling starting in elementary school, we can help close this gap and ensure we have enough individuals with the right knowledge and expertise to fill these jobs.

Next page: Coding inspires curiosity

[image courtesy code.org]