Coding and Education

christiankaindl profile image Christian Kaindl Updated on ・5 min read

About two years ago I started learning HTML. I was sitting at home in front of my computer, looking at some W3Schools tutorials. When I first started with HTML I asked a friend of mine how it works but could not make much sense out of what he said, but managed to crawl my way through. Then, after HTML came CSS. Same pattern. W3Schools tutorials and (from today's perspective) laughable attempts to create anything with it that seemed useful.

Two years later, I am happily enthusiastic about the web. I learned a lot about HTML, CSS and also JavaScript along the way and I now know that this is my way to go. I learned to love the web so much I often cannot stop talking about it, but not only because I think it is an absolutely mind-bogglingly amazing platform, but also because I see it is missing in my everyday world.

I work in an education project - there's not much "software development" going on - and this field of technology, almost everything that has to do with coding, or computers or technical things seem so far away for the people I work with every day. In some sense, this whole "software development" thing seems to have such a huge bubble, and often I wish that it wouldn't. Coding - and everything that appends to it - is such a useful mental property to have. It is, in my opinion, not about the ability to create something - although that sure is also useful :) - but more about the value that it has for someone's thinking.

I think everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.

Steve Jobs, 1995

Now, that is true not only for "technical" things like coding but also for other professions that are not taught in school (actually also the ones that are taught in school!). The bare presence of such highly specialized fields often makes people think "This is only a thing for [insert group of people that are underrepresented in most general education systems]".

I see the focus is changing in a new direction, people are now actively looking for alternatives to this kind of gaps in teaching. One does not have to be an expert in every field, but I'd argue that is it from high value to have an understanding and feeling about why a certain group of jobs are important to our society and myself. That is vital in my eyes. How could a society ever work when there are job groups that most people don't really know why they are important for them. That is what education should essentially do.

It is a bit like the code-comments debates - that so many exist of: "Comments should explain the Why, not the What". And I think for a majority of the time that is spent in early education this is exactly what is important. If you learn to value other peoples work by default, I think you, as a child/teenager/adult, will have it easier when looking for something you want to do in your life. Also you can have the trust that people will be able to look at what you do and find out why it is also from importance for them - and if not, have a conversation about it.

Now you can see one problem with this different approach: We would have to change the way we teach society (not only our children) and this would mean to drastically alter the institutions that are responsible for education. Because: I personally think it is hard - if not really hard - to understand the vital importance of a groups existence if this group is not present. Meaning that a random person that tells e.g. a child that engineers are important won't have a direct, deep, impact to it. The work, ethic and enthusiasm from that group, let them be engineers, coders, managers or whatever group you like, has to be somehow present for someone to really believe that this group's work is valuable.

Schools nowadays, at least where I live, are very isolated environments. A huge portion of job-fields are underrepresented or even completely absent. So there is this strange isolated thing called school (schools aren't bad, they just can be improved) which mostly tries to solve the What and is oftentimes very old-school (pun not intended) in what it teaches. Now, here's the thing, and why this has to do with a coder/hacker community: I see that communities like dev.to and platforms like the web, are missing as a mental value for a lot of people. A huge industry has formed over the last decades, but education systems have not yet adapted fast enough.

And this kinda hurts me. Really, really, deeply, because - and this is the actual reason for this writing - the web is so awesome. I cannot emphasize how much I love it. Just think about it: A platform that has evolved - and this is truly amazing - over the last 25 years, maybe now the biggest shared resources of humanity; With an unbelievably amazing, open environment, has now (from 2016 and ongoing) reached a point where it is mature enough so you can write first class, native like, blazing fast awesome applications like you could never before. PWAs - instant 'ad hoc' experiences on the fly. And unlike platforms like Android and iOS (and macOS and Windows and ...) there are 4 (!) major implementations of the technology stack! WHAT THE FUCK! How amazing is that?. 25 years, so far, have formed the web in a way that no one could have ever designed it to. It is a gem by every means and is having an exciting future with mature decentralization technologies right around the corner.

And the community... I cannot thank everyone - the countless open source projects that drive powerful innovation and that I discover more of every day, communities that are so welcoming and countless people that helped make it a great platform - enough... It is just really beautiful! And I want to deepen my involvement and want to contribute to this platform and its communities as much as I can. That's why I cannot stop being enthusiastic about it, and that is why I cannot stop talking about it, and that is why I think it has a valuable mental value - even to people that do not actively participate in it - for everyone. And that I see is greatly missing in society. It is one part of the hundreds of parts that can ultimately change how we perceive and act in this precious (very precious) world.

And that is the reason I wrote this. <3

I think there is a lot more to say and I would love to have some conversations about education and coding (maybe in the comments c: ). I tried not to write my viewpoint as an absolute, but in the end lines are scarce and it is difficult to always bring that thought down as I meant it. Also, education often is a hot topic so I would love to extend myself a little more if something is unclear.


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