Coding should be available in classrooms, not compulsory

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Over the past few decades, coding has gone from an obscure skill to one of the most marketable abilities someone can have their resume. 
 
In an increasingly tech driven world, coding can and will definitely have some pull in the job market for a diverse range of industries. But this doesn’t mean that every student should be forced to learn it. 
 
In an article written in The Globe and Mail, Kelly Lovell outlines how she believes coding has become the new cursive writing and our need as a society to embrace it as such. To propose that every prospective employee needs to know how to code is discrediting the more practical, creative, and interpersonal skills essential to different jobs and career paths that already exist. 
 
While coding is no doubt becoming a valuable and essential skill in STEM fields and beyond, not every career will hinge on a knowledge of Python or JavaScript. 
 
Web development is essential for a variety of industries and occupations, but without someone focused on the content, it would cease to exist. There’s a balance between the skills needed to create a program or web page and the skills to create what goes into it. 
 
Being made to learn coding as the norm can be positive for encouraging young people to become interested in STEM fields — especially young women — who are lacking numbers. But by making it the expected norm, students who won’t learn to code as easily as their more mathematically-oriented peers could be discredited. 
 
It’s an accepted truth in the educational field that not all students learn in the same way or at the same pace as their peers. Every person has diverse potential in different subjects, yet the Canadian public school system still expects all students to reach a certain level of knowledge in all of them. 
 
Students with greater financial means have the advantage of private tutoring for the subjects they are weaker in, while their peers may have to get by with solely  in-class learning time. The unequal academic playing field already in place for today’s students will apply to coding all the same. Students with access to computers, tablets and smartphones in their household will have more of an advantage when it comes to academics.  
 
Comparing coding to the now obsolete skill of cursive writing comes with a kind of irony. Once lauded as essential to academics and employability, cursive writing was drilled into young students. While few jobs required cursive writing skills, all students were forced to learn it. A skill is only valuable when it relates to what an individual really wants to do.
 
The prospect of teaching coding in schools brings to light a glaring issue with the current Canadian education system. Instead of letting students gravitate towards what they like and where they are most talented, the elementary and high school systems in place expect them to learn and be judged on every subject, regardless of whether or not they will ever build a career on it. Adding coding into that mix is ignoring a much bigger problem with how we are expected to learn. 
 
The answer to whether kids should be able to learn to code in the classroom is yes, but the education system in place needs an overhaul to benefit individual students first before it adds yet another skill to a static general curriculum. 
 
 
— Journal Editorial Board
 

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