It’s Time to Consider Coding a Core Skill

While there has been much written on the purpose of schooling, it is hard to refute schools exist to prepare students for success in their next steps.  At St. Andrew’s, as Amarillo’s only Pre-School through 8th grade private, Christian, college preparatory school, we do not look at ourselves just as high school prep or even college prep.  Rather, we consider our mission through lens of being life prep.

 

Life prep is an exciting proposition in our rapidly changing world.  While the skill-sets our students need to succeed will continue to evolve, at the core will always be the ability to read for insight, communicate for impact in speech and writing, and to understand and apply mathematics in context.  The success of St. Andrew’s graduates clearly demonstrates the strength of our program in preparing them in these important areas.

 

A skill widely recognized as becoming core to our students’ success is coding.  Coding was elevated in the national conversation with President Obama’s initiative, Computer Science for All, in 2016.  We cannot ignore the trends in industry that have moved coding beyond just being a fad in education. Coding is clearly becoming a necessity for our students.  Consider the following…

 

  • In 2017, there were $21 billion of unfilled tech industry jobs in the U.S. (Business Insider).
  • 90% of parents want Computer Science taught in their schools (White House).
  • Coding is built into the 2016 International Society for Technology in Education Standards (ISTE).

 

For those of us committed to the holistic education of children, the value of coding resonates the same way learning Algebra resonates: it promotes a habit of mind, of thinking sequentially and analytically.  It’s also cross-curricular. Consider the following from iD Tech, a provider of summer STEM learning opportunities…

  • Programming helps kids better understand the world around them.
  • Coding is fun and satisfying.
  • Coding improves creativity.
  • Coding improves problem solving.
  • Coding instills persistence.
  • Coding improves collaboration.
  • Coding improves communication.

 

What I have witnessed in our students is that coding also helps our students learn to apply technology, not just consume it.  To teach our students how to be positive influencers and creators in the digital world is one of the most important roles we can play in our children’s lives.  We must stand counter-cultural in this manner.

 

St. Andrew’s is committed to leaning into this conversation and teaching our students the basics of coding.  Our students engage in dynamic learning activities on code.org and tynker.org, participate in the international Hour of Code program, compete in the FIRST Lego Robotics competition, and apply sequential thinking in hands-on, project-based activities in our Tinkering Lab.  Through the Middle School SOLE Project, we have students learning programming language to create video games. We also recently began receiving external feedback from our standardized test, the ACT Aspire, in the snapshot they provide of our students’ STEM related skills.

 

At St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, we empower students to strive together as learners, artists, athletes, dreamers, believers…and coders.  Are you ready for your child to experience what school can be?