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Coding: nurturing holistic learning through literacy of the 21st century


girl and boy building robot

As we have mentioned in our previous blogs, coding is not simply a unidimensional field of study - it equips one with problem-solving skills, logical thinking and has the potential to solve the technical and social concerns of our generation. But learning to code, especially amongst the young, gears one with skill sets and qualities even beyond this.


How does coding help our children grow holistically?

Holistic development comprises of five factors: physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual development. Learning to code can play a part in helping a child grow to varied degrees in these areas. It is easy to see how coding can help a child develop intellectually—through problem-solving and the systems and patterns it employs, a child learns to think with abstract, logical thinking that develops their minds and the way they intellectually perceive the world around them. In terms of physical development, through typing and working with computers (and sometimes robots!), children increase in dexterity.


What about emotional and social development? Learning to code, like learning anything new, comes with its own challenges. It is like learning a new language; through familiarising oneself with the syntax and rules of a language and overcoming the challenges faced along this learning journey, one develops confidence and persistence through the iterations of attempting and perfecting the use of a language (i.e., improving their coding skills). When engaging in group tasks and learning to divide and conquer for coding projects, children learn to take initiative and how to effectively communicate with their peers while assisting one another— all essential social skills that will help them in the future.

Holistic development comprises of five factors: physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual development. Learning to code can play a part in helping a child grow to varied degrees in these areas.

Spiritual development entails building a set of morals, values, and how a child perceives themselves. Robotics is a major application of coding; it involves the need for communication and often aims to find solutions to real-world challenges, such as building a robot for rescue operations during natural disasters, or developing a bionic arm to help specially-abled people in need. It can even be something as simple as creating a robot that can help mom and dad with the chores so they have more time to rest! Through this process and increasing their empathic capabilities, kids learn what they personally deem as morally important, which helps develop them spiritually.


girl in computer lab

Coding as the 21st Century’s literacy

Coding’s potential is vast and is not (and should not) be limited primarily to the STEM industry. With the increasing relevance and development of code and tech in our generation, coding is quickly gaining relevance as a form of literacy, and thus it is more important than ever that we begin teaching it to the children of this generation. Just as one who cannot read or write may be left out of major civic decisions, the bigger the role coding plays in this world, the more likely it is to become a key skill that we should all learn.


Pedagogical (that’s basically a fancy word to say ‘a method of teaching’) approaches to coding for children cannot simply mimic those used for older students. Technologies such as KIBO (an interactive coding robot) and ScratchJr allow kids as young as 5 years old to learn and enjoy coding. These novel technologies enable children to learn the foundations of computational thinking in an age-appropriate manner. More importantly, these educational technologies are fascinating to the young, and allow them to engage in creative expression while learning new skills and ways of thinking, all in what they perceive to be as exciting ‘playtime’. Developing this playground of technology is a big step toward increasing coding literacy among children and helping them develop their literacy in coding while helping them learn holistically.


Undeniably, coding’s relevance as both a holistic learning tool and literacy of the 21st Century is growing as our society becomes increasingly technology-driven. Learning to code may just be the one-stop solution to best equip our children with the skills and knowledge they’ll need as members of today’s society while giving them the space to express themselves creatively, develop empathy, and see things from a new lens! As a Chinese proverb goes, “To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.”


Sincerely, a linguistic enthusiast,

Zubaidah



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