Why coding for everyone?

Part of education is vocational and a million well-paying computer science jobs certainly fits that mold. But an equally important part of the education experience is inspiring curiosity, teaching children how to think, and helping them learn about the world around us. I still remember when my favorite sixth grade teacher taught us about circuits. I spent a week gluing tin foil to cardboard to create a pin ball game. The end result barely worked, but if you gently rolled a metal ball in just the right way, it beeped. Sometimes.

Most of us will never use electronic circuits in our jobs. Even after working in computer software for 15 years, I’ve never even had to think about circuits. But learning the fundamentals of electricity helped me understand how the lights in my house work; the concept of alternative energy; and encouraged me to explore the world. For years, we’ve taught these types of fundamentals in K-12 education: how plants turn sunlight into energy through photosynthesis or how our body breaks down proteins during digestion.

In today’s world, understanding how the internet works or how computers break down problems is a fundamental, relevant part of students’ lives. Even if they don’t go on to major in computer science, it can help them understand the computer systems they’ll be using every day—in college, career, and beyond. And, for many, computer science will be a part of their career no matter what field they go into. In fact, two-thirds of the computer science jobs are outside of the tech industry.

Today, we see marketing and political teams using computers to analyze the data from their campaigns and track how their messages are landing with customers. Doctors are using computer programs to analyze proteins and design new drugs. Technical artists are creating animations in movies and software. Other applications are similarly changing the face of law, manufacturing, and even education.

Next page: Coding, without much math