There are plenty of myths surrounding coding.
With the digital age now in full effect, the “coding education” industry has grown significantly with apps, handbooks, tutorials, etc., that show children how to code. Learning to code can help kids develop problem-solving skills, improve their creativity, and boost their attention span.
However, for every benefit coding has to offer, there are just as many misconceptions about coding that give parents pause. Which, in turn, prevents their children from learning this valuable skill.
We are going to debug (pun intended), explore and fix these 10 misconceptions about being coding, and maybe serve as a source of relief for those parents considering the possibility of their children learning to code:
Coding Myth 1: Coding Starts and Ends With a Computer
We all know the old saying where it isn’t healthy to leave kids in front of the screen for too long. And a lot of people think that coding starts and ends with a computer screen.
But this isn’t true – coding doesn’t have to start on the computer at all. Coding begins in the mind – to use logic and problem-solving skills. It’s not just staring at a bright screen all day.
When we teach our kids to code, we start by asking them to draw on paper their idea. They don’t go anywhere near a computer until their concept is fleshed out. It encourages our students to explore and understand concepts to bring their imagination to life.
Coding Myth 2: Coding Is Boring (Especially for Kids)
Coding is only dull for kids if it is taught to them the same way adults are taught to code.
Luckily, fun and engaging tools exist specifically to teach children how to write their first lines of code. These tools use engaging and fun techniques such as games, puzzles, or immersive 3D graphics design to keep a child’s attention and help them pick up coding (and the logic behind it) in playful and intuitive ways.
Once children can build a robust coding foundation, they can gradually move towards working with real code.
Coding Myth 3: You have to be a mathematician to be a coder
Some parents fear that their child’s inability to do math will prevent them from learning how to code effectively. We couldn’t disagree more with this belief.
We, at Code Naturally, pride ourselves on using coding as a tool to make math fun, so we understand that math and coding are fundamentally connected. There’s no escaping math if you want to learn how to code.
But a child doesn’t need to be a mathematician to learn how to code.
If a child is struggling with a math concept, they can rely on a variety of tools and resources out there to assist with the mathematics associated with the code. While some programming languages do involve some math, a knowledge of programming doesn’t always mean a person is an instant mathematician. Though there is basic algebra involved, other key ingredients include logic, problem-solving skills, and most of all, patience.
The reality is, coders spend their time coding, not writing math formulas or solving math proofs. In fact, coding uses a lot more words than it does numbers.
Coding Myth 4: Coding is for those in college or university
Though this may have been true before the digital age, there are excellent resources available now for learning how to code without having to attend a single university lecture or graduate with a college degree. These resources tend to combine gaming with coding and are highly interactive to make coding more accessible for kids.
If someone’s new to coding, they can use Code Naturally‘s app or take a video course on Codecademy. If someone’s looking for answers, they can turn to Stack Overflow or StackExchange (seriously, they’re a coder’s best friends.) Google is also an excellent resource to either find answers or tutorials to learn how to code at your own pace.
Now, we’re not saying that there isn’t value to take computer science courses while in college. There’s certainly an advantage in having a professor or lecturer teach theories and concepts, but mastering these theories and concepts comes down to an individual’s practice and motivation to learn and seek out answers to their problems.
Coding Myth 5: One program language to rule them all
Some people look at coding and think of it like Lord of the Rings – where there’s one superior coding programming to rule the rest of them. This belief gives people anxiety as they want to make sure they pick the right coding language since it’s a huge personal commitment to learning how to code.
But again, there’s no truth to this belief at all. No computer language is “better” than another. It’s like saying French is “better” than Spanish.
Different programming languages exist to fit specific purposes – just like Spanish would be beneficial in Spain and not in Bulgaria. In other words, there’s no best programming language – it just depends on what you want to do with it.
No matter what language someone learns, it’s best to have a holistic approach rather than rigidly sticking to one. This method will prevent unnecessary roadblocks or frustrations in the case where a learner is trying to use a language for something it wasn’t intended to do. This open-mindedness also will benefit a kid long-term because it’s hard to predict which coding program will be in high demand by the time they start their careers.
If an individual wants to be a great developer, they’ll need to master multiple languages, so rather than focusing on finding the best language, focus on what’s important – the fundamentals and concepts of coding. Once a child has these things down, they’ll be able to grasp new languages quickly, and this approach gives a child the opportunity to focus on their problem-solving, project management and soft skills, all of which improve as the child learns to code.
Coding Myth 6: Coding Requires a Genius IQ of 160 or Higher
We have a particularly strong dislike of this myth because it implies that only smart people can code. This myth is causing people to think, “I’m not smart enough to be good at it” and they give up on coding before they even begin.
Coders aren’t some special breed of humans created in a lab fully equipped with calculators for brains. It’s the exact opposite.
Programmers are ordinary human beings who are passionate about learning to program. Being a coder doesn’t come down to brain power. It comes down to creativity, common sense, dedication, and a strong work ethic.
But it’s easy to see why people view coders as a particular breed since it seems like programmers are speaking a foreign language. But that is precisely what coding is – a language.
All languages, whether it’s Java, English, Mandarin, etc. sound challenging to learn. And no one wakes up fluent in a foreign language. It takes time to learn, starting with the basics and working your way up to more complicated syntax and words.
Like any language, coding has its own grammar and vocabulary. In the case of coding, this vocabulary allows an individual to interact with a machine on how to build something, such as a website. But this is the core of programming – communicating a purpose or action.
And like any language, coding can get very complicated, but these types of problems are the exceptions, not the rule. Rather than fail in the belief that there’s an IQ pre-requisite, try to see coding for what it truly is – a form of communication. If you know how to communicate, you can learn how to code.
Coding Myth 7: Only Adults Can Learn Programming Languages
Much like the myth about needing a college degree to learn to code, this myth further perpetuates the idea that kids are too young to learn something as complex as programming. Parents use this “logic” as a deterrent to enroll their kids in a coding course.
Well, age is just a number and shouldn’t be a barrier to anyone, including kids, from learning to code. In fact, kids are ideally suited to learn as research shows the fastest learning happens between the ages of five to twelve.
A benefit of introducing kids at a young age to coding is that it gives them good practice for building a creative mind. Nonetheless, we should mention that kids learn differently than adults, so it’s best to teach kids how to code using a visual tool as their visual perception is more developed (which is why we designed our app to be a visual-learning tool).
Coding Myth 8: Coding is only for future programmers
This myth is an odd one because it doesn’t make any sense.
It’s the equivalent to saying only future football players should ever play football. Or that only future novelists should learn how to write. While learning computer science is necessary to land a lucrative and rewarding STEM jobs, kids who learn to code don’t necessarily have to become engineers or programmers if it’s not the right career path for them.
Whether or not a kid chooses the STEM path, it’s becoming more and more critical for them to at least have a basic understanding of coding concepts if they want to be successful in their careers. It’s always good to be well-rounded, especially since computers and technology are an integral part of our fast-changing world.
Not to mention, coding teaches way more than just pure coding skills. It introduces kids to essential life-skills such as problem-solving, interpersonal, and project management skills, critical thinking, a sense of curiosity, and a full understanding of how our technology-driven society works.
Coding Myth 9: Coding Is for Nerds
In popular culture, coders are portrayed as nerdy, antisocial boys working alone in their room typing away into the night. They wear thick glasses (usually broken because they lack any coordination), are unathletic, love junk food, and have their rooms filled with Star Trek posters.
Not only is this an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of a vast community of people, but it also turns away kids who don’t want to be associated with this stereotype.
Thankfully, there are programs such Digital Youth Divas, which embeds coding into fashion design and the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine which is developing coding programs work against the stereotype by having kids do things such as make hip-hop music. It’s great to show kids that coding isn’t about fitting in – it’s about self-expression.
Coding Myth 10: Coders are Loners
This myth is similar to the nerd stereotype, but we wanted to address it separately. Some parents are hesitant in putting their kids into coding programs because they’re worried their child will lock themselves in their room for endless hours, not talking to a soul.
While it’s true that coding does require heads down time to focus, there’s a lot of collaboration needed if a coder wants to tackle a big project such as creating an app. An individual needs to be able to express their ideas and communicate effectively if they ‘re going to be a great coder.
Computer science requires teamwork and communication to make sure all of the pieces come together. This is why we encourage collaboration in our classes and allow our students to work with one another to solve problems. Not only will this help improve their social skills, but they’ll also reinforce concepts, and they’ll have more fun because they’ll be working with friends.
Coding Myths Need to be Debunked!
Statistics show that 90% of U.S. parents want their child to learn how to code. But this contracts our reality where the majority of kids in America don’t know how to code. Sure, offering computer science or coding in school would help, but so much of this comes down to changing the mindset of parents and other influences outside of school who play a significant role in shaping a child’s life.
As you can see above, there are a variety of widespread misconceptions about what it means to learn how to code. But we can’t allow these myths to continue to impact those who will lead tomorrow’s world negatively.
It’s clear that the digital age isn’t stopping anytime soon, so ensuring that next generation learns code is critical. With technology impacting every single corner of society – from art to business – the need to understand technology is growing and becoming a requirement, not an elective. Learning to code provides kids with an essential building block on which to build their future.
Will a child struggle when they first learn to code? Yes – yes they will. Coding is just like any other skill, where hard work and determination are the critical ingredients for success.
Kids don’t need to be mathematical geniuses (or geniuses for that matter) to be successful coders. So let’s bust these myths that are keeping far too many kids from learning a skill that will expand their horizons.