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The Urgency of Learning to Code

It looks like computer vomit on the screen at first, but when you think about it, your phone, laptop, remote control, microwave, fridge, TV, and car are all controlled by one thing:


That’s right, EVERYTHING around you had to be programmed at one point, whether it was hardwiring the code into the hardware, moving wires around, hammered in with a keyboard and compiled, or even just something to control the temperature in your freezer. It all had to be coded by someone.

Tech is EVERYWHERE nowadays. We as humans can’t live without it. Face it. We are dependent on our phones and the instant information it gives us in order to function and communicate in today’s world. My sister’s a doctor, and she can’t even properly diagnose someone without internet access on her phone. Even though you aren’t writing code everyday, you sure are using it. In fact, just reading this blog post is utilizing code. Me writing it, listening to music, using a mouse and keyboard all involve using code.

A few weeks ago, I was camping in the desert with a couple of friends, and we started talking about coding, and why it was important. My friend DT told me something really astounding, that I hold dear to whenever I touch a computer now:

“We as people need to learn how to control technology, rather than having it control us.”

So how do we control technology? Through coding!

When someone looks at a screen on their Android phone, they see just that… An app…

But when I look at it, I see an activity’s onCreate method executing what it was written to do, OnClickListeners, If/else statements, the extension and implementation of classes, the type of layout, elevation of pixels, and the whole slew of code blocks that are needed to make it work.

I’ll admit, it isn’t ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to learn all of that stuff. If you don’t know what pixel elevation is, or what an Android Activity is, we can still be friends and I won’t judge, but to know the basic structure of the technology around you is absolutely important.

For instance, many people don’t know the first thing about the terminal prompt on their computer, when you can virtually control everything in that computer by just typing in a few simple commands that aren’t difficult to memorize.

Even worse, there’s tons of false resources out there that can lead to accidental damage to your system, especially with terminal and the use of the “sudo” command. Most people just type that in, not knowing what it means, but this command alone can cause irreversible damage to the machine if the following commands are typed in wrong, or if a malicious website is attempting to install something on your system that really shouldn’t be there.

I hear this from a TON of teachers: My students are excellent with technology! They know how to work the iPad better than I do! First off, that’s the teacher’s fault they haven’t taken the time to mess around with their device, ask for help, and utilize the resources on the internet to help the out. Second, I hate to break it to you, but your students are NOT EXCELLENT WITH TECHNOLOGY.

Your students are EXCELLENT END USERS, and know how to use their phone, iPad, and laptop without our help, they still don’t know how to code. Showing them:


Means NOTHING to them. They don’t know what system is, out, or println. Heck, they might not even know what the last part is, or why there’s a semicolon at the end.

Just because they can move around windows and play games on the web doesn’t mean that they’re good with technology. In essence, they know how to use tech, but they don’t know how it works, and even worse… They don’t know what it’s capable of. It’s one thing to be a good end user, but it’s a completely different world to know how it all works.

And if you don’t know how it all works… Then when it breaks… You’re in trouble. You’ve most likely experienced it before, when your computer breaks down, you feel helpless, and completely at a loss. This is putting you at risk for not getting your work done, meaning it’s going to be a financial loss in the end.

It’s like not knowing much about cars. Your car breaks down on the road, and you, not knowing much about cars subject yourself to dishonest mechanics with hidden agendas, and hefty bills.

In this day and age, I’m a firm supporter of teaching others how to code, how to use a computer, and how to do your own technical support. By knowing the ins and outs of your computer, you put yourself in a more credible and useful position, and EVERYONE sees you as more valuable.

Hell, even when I was a sales rep at my old job, they kept me around because I would help fix the computers and phones when they were on the fritz. The company didn’t want to lose me, because it meant expensive tech support bills and lost revenue due to computer failure.

So long story short here, if students don’t know how to code and do their own tech support, you’re setting them up for failure in the future.


Hope you like this post! More to come in the future 🙂

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