Against the tide // Parents, let your kid decode life. Coding can wait.

Against the tide // Parents, let your kid decode life. Coding can wait.

A 2019 research published in ‘The Lancet Oncology’ predicted that with the rising rates of cancer, the world will face a severe shortage of oncologists in the next 15-20 years.

Should you be pushing your 5-year-old to study oncology to be career ready in the next 15 years? You would say No. Right?

Then why is there this hysteria and push among parents to make coders out of their toddlers?

As a parent of an 8-year-old, I have resisted phone calls from coding tutorials and advice-cum-warnings from other “concerned” parents to get my son enrolled in an online coding tutorial.

The pressure, the fear of missing out is such that many parents feel that they are not being good and caring parents if they are letting the coding train pass by without their young ones hopping on to it.

To all you such parents out there, I have just this simple piece of advice: Coding is a skill and can be learnt at any age. Let the kids be. Don’t push them into it just because the marketing executives tell you that your child will be a future misfit if she hasn’t developed an app of her own by the age of 5.

Don’t spoil their years of fun and real-life learnings under peer pressure, thinking that your neighbour’s kid is going to grow into ripped jeans and hoodied 20-something millionaire, while yours will be a “loser”.

As celebrated software developer Jeff Atwood explained in thought-provoking blog post in 2012: “Programming is important … in the right context, for some people. But so are a lot of skills. I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would urge everyone to learn plumbing.”

It also doesn’t make sense for the kids to start learning to code in crib from the career and job point of view, which is the prime mover for many parents as they fear their kids growing into “worthless adults”. With technology and needed skill sets changing at such a rapid pace, the skills learnt today will be redundant in a few years.

Of course, it’s a skill set. And if a child has an interest and desire to learn coding when she is say 15 or 16, she will still have plenty of time.

Learning to code at a young age isn’t the key to success. What will make kids successful in this tech-driven world is whether they can think – creatively, innovatively, and expansively. And that is accomplished through free, unstructured play.

In fact, it’s criminal to push your 5-6-year-olds into coding. Let children play and enjoy childhood. You do not need to push them down the ‘career’ path or interest in computer programming until they are actually closer to 15 or 16 years old.

Let them acquire life skills from their experience. Let them go out, explore, imagine, question, think. Guide them to grow into empathetic, good humans. World will always need a lot of those. In this world forced indoors and into online learning, teach the value of collaboration, team work, and caring. Teach them that they may be sitting in their room with a laptop or ipad for company, they are a part of the larger society. Take them to your friends and family. Make them social beings, not just socially networked beings.

And no clicks and codes can teach them these skills, which will actually see them through the rough and tumble of life.

So dear parents, relax. Take a deep breath. And next time you get a call from a coding skill shop promising to turn your kid into the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, just laugh and hang up.

Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in The Brew View – our opinion section – are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of, the company, or any of its members.

Mohd Asim

Mohd Asim is a journalist based in New Delhi with over 16 years experience in news across print, TV and digital platforms. He has worked with India's premier news organizations such as The Indian Express and NDTV. A political animal, he regularly writes on politics, current affairs, cultural and gender issues. When not talking and writing on politics, he escapes into the world of movies.

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