What age is too early when talking about teaching computational thinking and computer science in education? As it turns out, the answer varies at an international level, but with a trend to think the earlier the better.
For instance, according to research from Purdue University in 2014, it is mandatory in the UK to teach computer science starting as early as kindergarten. All students are required to learn two or more programming languages, at least one of them being textural by the time they reach grade 8.
England is leading the global push to teach kids to code. But Canada isn’t joining in.
Computer education advocate Chris Stephenson said that, when it comes to discussing computer science education in Canada, “the silence is deafening.”
So, how is the situation in Canada?
I strongly believe that it is imperative that our education system must adapt to the growing demands for problem-solving skills of future generations and thus make computer science a mandatory part of the curriculum.
It is a known fact that young children learn new concepts much easier than later on in life. When young children are taught programming and computational thinking at an early age, it will become part of their everyday thinking processes. Computing will naturally be the new literacy and not like in Canada a ‘hit and miss’ subject that is only offered as a selective course at high school.
What does this mean going forward?
I believe that the demand for computer science teachers will increase in the near future, but at the same time, teachers need to understand that the underlying concept of computer science is computational thinking and that can be applied to all subject matters whether it is biology to physics.
I believe that Canadian students miss out on learning computational thinking skills, critical thinking skills, speaking a second language skill and thus parents, teachers and students should demand an Interdisciplinary Computational Thinking Curriculum that will teach students how to independently think and how to solve problems.