In Thomas Friedman’s column “New Rules,” Friedman talks about children in Estonia who are being taught computer programming in schools beginning at age seven and ending at age 16. Friedman talks not so much about the fact that children are being taught how to code computers, but about the fact that the world is a much different place now than it was when Clinton was president.
“The truth is, if you want a decent job that will lead to a decent life today you have to work harder, regularly reinvent yourself, obtain at least some form of postsecondary education, make sure that you’re engaged in lifelong learning and play by the rules. That’s not a bumper sticker, but we terribly mislead people by saying otherwise.” -Friedman
It’s true- what so many of us were told while growing up, “you can be whatever you want to be,” doesn’t always hold true anymore. For a good job now, especially in the US, one needs a college degree, perhaps some additional degrees, and extra training and experience.
And, sometimes, even that’s not enough.
So, back to Estonia, where children are being taught the extra skills needed to program computers. It might seem a little strange to those of us who were just taught the basics- but in other places of the world, if people can go further in life by acquiring the necessary skills needed to succeed in that areas biggest market, why not go for it?
I don’t think Friedman is in any way saying that children at this particular age can’t learn how to write code. I don’t think he is saying that children (or anyone) are incapable of being taught the language of computers.
However, he does seem to marvel at it.
Yes, it is a very interesting idea, children learning such complex concepts- the sort of thing that many adults here go to tech schools for. But is it something that we, as Americans, would trust our children to do? Does the thought of a seven year old with computer programming knowledge make you feel as inferior as it does me?
I suppose there are many hidden talents around the world, in the US included- children who know more about cars, are ridiculously good at mathematics, who win national spelling bees with words I can’t even pronounce, who could out-sing Whitney Houston, I could go on. So, why does the thought of a child with more knowledge base when it comes to technology astound us so much?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been put in my place once or twice by a kindergartner in my life who was able to fix the settings on an iPhone or figure out how to resolve a computer issue while I sat there completely stumped. What this article brought most to my attention was, why when children show us their true potential, do we still stick them in the cookie-cutter shapes of “other” children their age? If the aforementioned kindergartner was able to fix the settings on a piece of technology that I, as a poor college student, can’t even afford, then why did I (most likely) turn around and still refer to myself in the third person and insult his intelligence?
Perhaps what we should be marveling about in regards to children learning such skills (which we as adults can’t even grasp) is not the fact that they’re so young- perhaps what we should be marveling about is how many of these children are capable of such a thing, but are overlooked simply because we don’t have the faith in them to follow through.