Do Students Have to Learn Coding and Robotics?
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Do students need to learn everything? - Episode 020
I get a little ranty in this episode. Do students need to learn everything? Should all students be forced to take Trigonometry. An innocent article inspired this podcast episode. From E School News, the article was titled “The Four Tech Skills Every Middle Schooler Needs.”
I’m not against technology. I’m really not. It wasn’t the article itself that got me going, but what it made me think of was how often schools are desperately grasping to educate on certain topics that are going to make the country better.
“So let’s all focus on science!” “Ohh. There’s a new trend, so Let’s all run like lemmings over to math! Oh, no, now it’s farming technology. Let’s go leap over here.”
What they’re doing is they’re trying to shove every single student into this push for a certain type of education, not taking into account that not every student wants to excel in math, or science, or how to milk a cow!
The Four Tech Skills Students (Supposedly) Need to Know
Robotics and Coding
So, when you label an article “The Four Tech Skills Every Middle Schooler Needs,” and it starts with something like robotics and coding – WHY?
Maybe it’s my black and white way of thinking. Maybe I’m getting a little too hyped up on the wording of “every middle school student needs.” But, we’re still forcing all students to take Algebra 2. We’re still making students take courses that in no way represent what they want to pursue.
Instead of trying to push every student into this one little funnel mold and maybe out of every 10 students, like three come out and invent rockets and super awesome stuff or computer programs, and the rest are like “Well, that was a waste of time!”
Why are we trying to push those 10 students down a path in hopes that one or two will come out awesome and the rest are left to be bored out of their minds? Why don’t we work to develop the talents of the students?
I’m willing to concede that there is a need for students to understand technology – and maybe how to go on Squarespace and make a website.
But don’t start pushing them down a path that they might not want to pursue. Because who knows? Maybe you’ll have a kid in that group of 10 who actually could one day develop a rocket that shoots to the moon, or a website that brings shoes to your house in less than a second. But maybe you’re starting that push too early, and maybe you’re going to extinguish that flame before it even starts burning.
I just cannot get past when people say students need to take certain classes.
Students need to know Keyboarding
Now, this article also goes and says skill number 2 is keyboarding – which I do agree with. But here’s the thing. We’re taking cursive out of the schools, and we’re taking letter writing out of the schools. The problem is we’re not replacing it with anything. We’re not teaching students how to write emails.
Do you know how many of my students get tripped up when it comes to writing an email? That’s because they weren’t taught. So, yes, keyboarding and learning how to write a basic email is important. Keyboarding might be something that is important to teach.
But when you throw out big threatening words like robotics and coding, I don’t think I need to know anything about robotics and coding. I’ll go buy myself a Roomba, thank you very much.
Complete side note:
I actually asked for a Roomba for a wedding gift and I was made fun of. And I still have not gotten a Rooomba. I did get an awesome Dyson vacuum cleaner that my husband lent to a teacher at one of his very first schools and they broke it, and that was 10 years ago. And I haven’t had a new Dyson since. It makes me sad and it annoys my husband because every time we see a Dyson commercial, I say “Oh, look at that Dyson. IT would be nice to have a nice Dyson vacuum cleaner. Oh, wait. I had one and it got broken.
What is Making?
The other thing that the article points out is “making.” WHAT is making?
It says they “want to produce things that are valuable to other people.” Well, yes. Let us produce. They mention thigns like Tinker Cat and Book Creator and Kid Pix 3D. And okay. Making things online that could be important, and helpful.
But, so is making stuff in shop class and Home Ec, and I wish we would bring those back. It would be really nice if I knew how to change oil in a car and bake a chicken pot pie.
You know what I don’t know how to do? I don’t know how to change the oil in a car or make a chicken pot pie, and I don’t know how to iron. You know who knows how to iron at my house? My husband. You know what he had growing up? I don’t think he had Home Ec, but he had someone in his life who taught him how to iron.
So, while we’re making things on a computer, let’s learn how to use our hands as well.
Communication across Multiple Devices
Finally, it says “communication via multiple devices. It says how there’s iPads and Chromebooks, and then students go home to their laptops – apparently these students are are very well to do that have all these resources at their homes. But, I don’t know if it’s communication via multiple devices that’s so important.
It goes back to the basic understanding of organization. Not only do we need to know how to translate documents between a variety of computer and programs, we need to learn how to keep it organized.
You’re giving these kids all these electronic devices and programs. Guess what they all come with? Logins, passwords. Different passwords. If you miss one thing, then you can’t use the one that you used from two weeks ago. You have to go back to a password that you used in 1983, before you were even born. How do we keep all that organized?
If you use something like Google Drive, don’t be like me. Don’t have everything all spread out. Learn a good labeling system. Learn how to file stuff.
In the digital age, it’s just as important to be organized as it was when you were like JR Ewing and using a Rolodex and a file cabinet.
Let’s not make #1 be robotics and coding. That’s nice and shiny and it looks awesome, but there’s probably one kiddo who is going to become a computer whiz and you’re going to lose the other kiddos because you’re not focusing on what’s practical.
Expose kiddos to a variety of opportunities, but don’t force them to do it. Don’t make it be “they MUST have this.” Make it “they WANT this.” And if they don’t want it, give them another area to explore and grow.
Reach out to me by email. I know this was a passionate flying off the cuff episode. If I’m wrong, please send me an email. Let’s have a discussion about it.
Do you think every kiddo needs to know robotics and coding? To what extent?
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Marni Pasch| Host of School Counselor Gone Rogue| Academic Coach | Team Pasch Academic Coaching
I work with students in grades 6th and higher, who struggle with academic confidence and motivation. I help them survive school with less stress by helping them create concrete goals, tackle procrastination and learn creative study techniques. I empower students to take charge of their education and reach their goals. I do this through individual or group coaching so students achieve success in life, school, career readiness and their social endeavors.