What’s Wrong with Coding?

power tools in a shopCoding is a hot topic in my media feeds again… each year when the events designed to increase students’ experience writing code, it appears again. I get it, but I am distressed by educators’ (and philanthropists’) fascination with coding. We are looking to closely at the field of design and are missing the far more important task—manufacturing; or more simply, building stuff.

I recently had a conversation with an individual who brings learners into the space pictured to the right to build projects like that also pictured. He was an engineer before opening this space, and he told the story of his grandfather who used to say, “If you can’t build it, then you are not an engineer.”

image of a hydroponic growing stationAs we get our students coding, let’s be sure we help them understand the nature of their work—they are in control of the computer, and it will do what the programs direct. Perhaps, we need a wise grandfather to remind students, “You can’t program it, then you are not a computer user.”

As we get our students coding, let’s also ask them to look at the monitor, mouse, computer case (inside and outside), and the tables, chairs, lights, windows, classrooms (both the physical and the organizational) to predict how they can be improved through good design. Then, let’s give students to tools and autonomy to redesign.