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Should Everyone Learn to Code?

Posted by Gigi Sayfan on Oct 29, 2015

Software is eating the world, as Marc Andreessen said. More and more functions that used to require people are controlled by software. The demand for software engineers is on the rise and the trend seems fairly stable. Many people speculate that at some point software will replace most software engineers as well. But we're not quite there yet.

There is no denying that code and software are becoming increasingly important in our society. The big question is whether or not everybody should learn to code. There are several aspects to the matter. One of the arguments for it is that since code is running so much of our world, everyone should at least study to have a sense of what software is and what it takes to create it and maintain it. I'm not sure I subscribe to this viewpoint. Most people are perfectly happy being ignorant of the inner working of the many crucial things on which they depend. How many people know what electricity really is or how an internal combustion engine works? More specifically, how many people use apps on their phone without the slightest idea of how they were built?

People that are interested have as many resources as you can dream of available for free to learn on their own via articles, YouTube videos, code academies, sample code on GitHub, etc.



Another argument for the idea that everyone should code is that it will expose people (especially less privileged people) to a very lucrative opportunity to earn a decent living. Again, I'm not sure how effective that would be. It takes a certain aptitude to be a professional developer who actually gets paid. You need to be the type of person who can sit in front of the screen for hours, focus, telling an idiot machine precisely what to do and not get frustrated when it gets it wrong.

If everyone learns to code, either a lot of people will fail or you dial down the content to total fluff. What about the people who have the aptitude and can be successful, but were never exposed to code? This is a different story. Schools should introduce code to everyone and let them experiment, but the purpose would be to pique the interest of kids that might succeed and not to churn out hoards of inept software developers.

TAGS:

software developers, developer education


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