Learn how to code this year. It’s easier than you think.
With that, the UK’s “Year of Code,” a government-supported campaign to get people to start learning code, kicked off this month.
The independent, nonprofit campaign comes on the eve of a major overhaul of the UK’s education system: In September 2014, coding will be introduced in the curriculum for every child ages 5-16 years old. This makes “the UK the first major G20 economy in the world to implement this on a national level,” according to the Year of Code’s website. In order to help these children make the most of the opportunity (and to help their teachers properly prepare), Year of Code will host events with their tech partners all over the UK.
Though Year of Code is independent, it has received major support from the British government, which offered tech firms “a share of funding worth £500,000 to help get teachers up to speed on coding” (Kobie, 2014). The grant was divided between both universities and IT firms who were willing to match the funding they received. The program itself is endorsed by Education Secretary Michael Gove, though “it isn’t clear how Year of Code is itself funded” (Ghosh, 2014).
It seems like just the campaign Program or Be Programmed author Douglas Rushkoff has been encouraging, and something any STEM education advocate has dreamed about. Unfortunately, just a week after its launch, Year of Code has already hit some speed bumps.
Less than a week after the campaign’s launch, an advisor quit. Several people involved in Year of Code have described it as “not focused” and “BS,” views which were only amplified after an interview on BBC Newsnight in which the campaign’s spokesperson, Lottie Dexter, admitted that she does not know how to code (Cellan-Jones, 2014). (FYI, she pointed out that that is what the Year of Code is about—to learn.) In fact, “only three of Year of Code’s 23 advisers and executives have professional coding experience, while the remainder come from business backgrounds” (Ghosh, 2014).
Year of Code or not, in September UK schoolchildren are going to be learning code in the classroom. Should the U.S. make similar amendments to our education system? Should we try out our own “Year of Code,” preferably without the PR snafus? Share your thoughts in the poll below.