A few weeks ago a video called “What most schools don’t teach” was published on Code.org. About a week after that a post with the title “Programming is Not for Everybody” by Robert Smith from symbo1ics.com showed up in the Hacker News front-page.
The video by Code.org featured famous people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, and an early Facebook Engineer encouraging everyone to learn how to code in order to get a petition signed to allow “every student in every school” to have the opportunity to learn programming. And it created controversy throughout the developers community because in the video these people were saying things like: “addition, subtraction, that’s about it,” referring to the only things a person needs to know to be able to program. This, of course, made many hard-working programmers like Robert Smith somewhat angry because I am sure they felt under-appreciated. I am no professional programmer, but I am aware that most developers who have to live off programming have to work extremely hard for many hours in order to get paid, and they know a lot more than just addition and subtraction.
So although I agree in that the video did misjudge programming at a professional level, I do not agree with Robert Smith’s last and most important point: “Quite simply, programming is not for everyone. It is not an absolutely fun and delightful task as it’s portrayed to be in videos like the aforementioned or movies like “The Social Network”. It is rarely an invigorating social activity.” Programming can be fun, delightful, and even a social activity, you’ve just got to make an effort to make it so. Maybe at a professional level that’s not the case, but for simple students that would just learn the basics of this skill, it definitely can. I know some HTML, CSS, and very few of Python, and although I currently cannot create anything great and amazing, I feel the small knowledge I have has given me and the few of my friends that can program many benefits.
I think the main reason that Robert Smith greatly disagrees with the video is that it talks about the amount of software-engineers that are needed and non-existent. It encourages everyone to become an engineer. And that is a fair reason to dislike the video since to me it is also clear that not everyone can be a programmer at a professional level and if everyone was then a lot of crappy software would start circulating the world, but I do think coding is a skill everyone should learn, possibly in school.
I believe everyone should know the basics of programming. Our society is heading in a direction where everything we do revolves around technology, so if everyone could develop for it then I am sure we’d advance in a much more rapid way as a society. I am 16-years-old, and I would just love to live on a future where sharing code is something common to do; a future where pretty much everyone can grab a computer and create something unique.