Coding is a foundational skill

Coding has become the fourth foundational skill in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic.

That’s a bold statement that might elicit much discussion from experts however I will explain below why I make the statement.

The world is changing rapidly. The Information Age is upon us and accelerating rapidly. Computers are being incorporated into every machine and device; from cars to watches, from airplanes to lights, even doorbells. Everything is being digitized and connected and what makes it all run and useful is a computer program directing the computer components to carry out specific tasks.

Persons who can code are in high demand. According to, there are less than 50,000 Computer Science graduates in 2017. But there are over 500,000 open computing positions in the United States. This could mean that in 2020, the available seats for this position will exceed qualified applicants by a million which could widen the gap even more.

The growth of computers and information has resulted in a number of new disciplines cropping up collectively known as “Computational X”. Examples include Computational Anatomy, Computational journalism, Computational finance, Computational mathematics, and even Computational photography. Computational X disciplines are recent additions to the list of career opportunities. All these careers need coders.

Some would argue that it’s not coding that is a fundamental skill but computational thinking – the ability to express a problem in a way that it could be understood by a computer. Computational thinking has become a buzz word in the educational field recently. Many large countries are revamping their educational systems to incorporate computational thinking – the USA, England and Australia have all launched new programs. Computational thinking is best taught through coding.

Others would argue that it’s not coding but computer science that is a fundamental skill. Coding is central to computer science and coding is the cool part where you get to demonstrate your ideas in a working (and sometimes not so well-working) computer program. George Forsythe, a former ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) president and one of the founding fathers of computer science education in academia, in 1968 wrote: “The most valuable acquisition in a scientific or technical education are the general-purpose mental tools which remain serviceable for a lifetime. I rate natural language and mathematics as the most important of these tools, and computer science as a third.”

Coding is best way to introduce children to the power of computers and without the ability to code you can only participate in the new digitized economy as a consumer but never as a creator.

Which one would you prefer your child to be?