This article originally appeared on VICE Asia
When we think of programming code, we think of complicated green characters blanketing a black screen à la Matrix. We think of cyberpunk, neon, maybe Angelina Jolie’s character in cult ‘90s movie Hackers. Or maybe the Silicon Valley prestige personified by Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.
For a new generation of India’s toddlers, however, coding might mean something more mundane—something that comes as naturally as speech. With the help of their parents, these toddlers are learning how to code at the same time as they’re learning how to talk.
“Schools need to realise the importance of coding as a skill,” Karan Bajaj, founder of educational coding platform Whitehat Jr told Quartz India.
Bajaj makes the point that coding skills are to us now what mathematics was to the Industrial Revolution: underrated at the time, but invaluable decades after.
Today’s children are immediately immersed in technologies that require them to swipe or push buttons before they walk. It just makes sense to equip these kids with the knowledge to build on the tools they already play with at a very young age.
People around the world are realizing that programming will become a very valuable skill for the next generations. While programming languages get replaced over time, all programming languages operate using something rudimentary: logic. To teach the kids how to write code without laboring over syntax, the programming languages they use come in commands that can be arranged in order to make basic sense. But even in its most basic form, there’s still space to be as creative as the code allows.
Learning centers that teach kids how to code are a growing industry in India and the rest of the world. While courses vary depending on the centre, the common ground is that educating the next generation about coding early prepares them for a future dominated by data.
“We do not believe that every child who enrolls in these classes is a future software engineer,” Bharat Divyang, founder of experimental “brain gym” ZugZwang Academy told Quartz India. “They could be an artist, a doctor, a painter or a teacher."
"What we do believe is that the coding and computational thinking will help them in excelling at anything they do in a digitally connected world."