Code – The New Literacy

My daughter is like a magnet. She’s always attracted to her parents and now that she has learnt to walk, she orbits us like a little electron. I’ve picked up my guitar again after 20 years of hibernation so that she’s hopefully being influenced by music. It’s funny how she orbits me while I play guitar and occasionally strums a few strings. She generally allows me to play my guitar but if I’m on the computer she wants to tap away at the keyboard, mouse and screen preventing me from doing anything productive. I learnt that if I ask her, “How does a computer count?” she’ll back away if only for a moment. This way I can try to influence her early about digital and analog ways. She knows what rainbow (ASL) is, that it’s “duga” (SR). She knows the fridge magnet letter ‘M’. Music, colours and language is all analog.


She is “mamina mala maza.”

So, it’s interesting that there is a big push to bring computer literacy to school kids. Start them young. Here’s an interesting quote from the short video:

In China, every student learns computer programming. In the U.S., less than 5%.

Aside from the incomplete sentence, this is an astounding fact. Even if 100% of Chinese children aren’t learning computer programming there probably is a high contrast in computer literacy between the East and West.

I wonder why should we stop at children. We need everyone not to be just computer users but computer programmers. We need to add adult computer programming literacy to this effort. Every parent, business owner, entrepreneur, salesperson, and consumer should be taking computer programming one-zero-one. If we don’t then we will lose another generation of creative and technical producers, and not just borrowed against their future but lent out, with all due respect, to be “Made in China”.

So why wait? iTunesU has catalogs full of computer programming and other subjects, and edX ( features courses from schools such as Harvard and MIT, yours free for the taking. There’s also some courses spoken and taught in Mandarin if you know the language. Oh, and Duolingo provides free courses teaching many languages, too.

Life-long learning has never been so easy.

And if you know a programmer, reach out to them. It will make your life so much easier.

Edit: I forgot about Scratch programming language for kids 8 to 16 years recommended and parents of all ages.