Many of you probably took one look at the title and assumed this is going to be a rant against coding. With all the recent hype about coding in the 21st century, as a parent myself, I would share my opinions on the topic. Of course, I am not saying coding is bad, or that children needn’t learn it. The point I will try to assert in this article is that coding skills need other skills in order to balance a child’s complete skill set.
Coding: The Language of the Future
Children have a faster capacity for learning, which is why you see so many advertisements saying you should make sure your kid learns this now! But, you also need to pause and consider if you are equipping your child with all the right skills.
Sure, coding will give your child a resource to qualify for a job in the technology industry a decade or two later. Yet, the purpose of children learning skills is to actually get the job, not just qualify for it. And to get a job, you have to pass the interview stage. Through this article, I will give you examples to help you understand why your child needs language skills as much as coding skills.
The Coding Conundrum: Reel Life vs Real Life
There is no lack of Educational Institutions in our country with courses on Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence or Coding. Apart from colleges, there are institutions like NIIT, Aptech and others who offer short-term courses in all types of Computer Languages. Yet, there are many graduates who fail to find jobs. Not just that, students who top their classes and score high grades struggle to find a job once they complete their studies. Why does this happen?
This next example will probably explain my point better than I can.
A few years ago, I was watching a movie where an out-of-work hero decides to apply for a job at a multi-national company. Our hero is a software engineer with average marks and no English speaking skills. In the first round of group discussion, he stays silent and seems awed at the fluency with which the other participants are communicating in English and presenting their thoughts. Then, the moderator turns to him and the conversation goes like this:
Moderator: Hello, you haven’t said anything. What do you think?
Him: Yeah, I agree.
Moderator: What are you agreeing with?
Him: That only. I agree.
Moderator: Can you say something other than “I agree”?
Him: Actually, I don’t know how to talk in English, madam.
(The words in italics were spoken in the local language.)
As this character was the protagonist, the movie conveniently creates a situation in which the moderator allows him to talk in the vernacular language. And, of course, he got the job. How else can the movie end?
Unfortunately, this may not have been the case in real life. How could it? In today’s competitive world, our children need multiple skills to prove their competence and pursue a rewarding career.
Communication is Key
In today’s global scenario, a job is never just about doing the work. It is also about interacting with colleagues and maybe even colleagues from a different country! If we do not know the basics of a global language, any job will be a challenge. Even describing what our jobs are to someone who isn’t familiar, requires communication skills.
To illustrate further, let me present another situation. The following was a question asked during an interview for a big technology company with a global presence (think Apple).
“How do you take millions of users with hundreds of transactions each, amongst thousands of products and group all the users together in meaningful segments?”
The task was not to create a code to solve this. The candidate was not given a laptop to write any code. The answer was to be explained to the panel in English, on how he/she would approach the situation and how they would write the code. The panel comprised of members from different departments and not all of them knew software and coding.
What does this mean? Unless you can communicate your thoughts and process in a language everyone else can understand, it doesn’t really help if you have a perfect score at University.
In conclusion, which skill should you choose for your child to build? Coding or communication? Our answer:
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