Teens, tweens and kids are often referred to as “digital natives.” Having grown up with the Internet, smartphones and tablets, they’re often extraordinarily adept at interacting with digital technology. But Mitch Resnick, who spoke at TEDxBeaconStreet, is skeptical of this descriptor. Sure, young people can text and chat and play games, he says, “but that doesn’t really make you fluent.”
Mitch Resnick: Let’s teach kids to codeFluency, Resnick proposes in this TED Talk, comes not through interacting with new technologies, but through creating them. The former is like reading, while the latter is like writing. He means this figuratively – that creating new technologies, like writing a book, requires creative expression – but also literally: to make new computer programs, you actually must write the code.
The point isn’t to create a generation of programmers, Resnick argues. Rather, it’s that coding is a gateway to broader learning.”When you learn to read, you can then read to learn. And it’s the same thing with coding: If you learn to code, you can code to learn,” he says.Learning to code means learning how to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. And these skills are applicable to any profession – as well as to expressing yourself in your personal life, too.
In his talk, Resnick describes Scratch, the programming software that he and a research group at MIT Media Lab developed to allow people to easily create and share their own interactive games and animations. Below, find 10 more places you can learn to code, incorporating Resnick’s suggestions and our own.
- Stanford University’s Udacity is one of many sites that make college courses-including Introduction to Computer Science-available online for free. (See our post on free online courses for more ideas.)
- Through workshops for young girls of color, Black Girls Code aims to help address the “dearth of African-American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions,” founder Kimberly Bryant writes, and build “a new generation of coders, coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.”