It’s Computer Science Education Week and events are running across the world to encourage children to learn how to code. While there have been efforts locally to push for coding to be part of the school curriculum, there’s still a notion that it’s a hard skill to pick up and only the exceptionally bright kids will be able to learn it. That’s not the case, according to Microsoft’s citizenship manager Anna Howarth.
Children playing Minecraft picture from Getty Images
Microsoft is holding Hour of Code sessions at its flagship store in Sydney as part of Computer Science Education Week. Howarth said that there’s still a lot of work to do in terms of breaking down the stereotypes around coding and demystifying some of the notions that are attached to it.
“We have to make kids understand that coding is not just for geniuses – everybody can learn how to code,” she told Lifehacker Australia. “We’ve started look at ways to make coding fun so we started looking at involving kids through game development.”
Part of the Hour of Code sessions involve teaching coding to children through Minecraft, where participants are guided by a series of tutorials on how to create a minigame.
“They’re not playing the game, they’re actually programming in it, learning computational skills on the Minecraft platform,” Howarth said. “It has been really well received by the kids and it’s a great way to get young people started.”
There is a general misconception that knowing how to code will lead to untold wealth as the consumer and business apps markets continue to grow. But there really is no guarantee that people will be able to find success in the technology industry. However, Howarth stressed that coding and computational skills will be valuable across multiple industries, which provides young people with a better chance of gaining employment later in life.
“Coding is a foundational skill for young people in the 21st century,” she said. “It opens up important opportunities for now and into the future.”