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Should learning to code start with the children? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2019-4-2 15:19:31 |Display all floors

(People's Daily)“Elon Musk began learning to programme at the age of 9. Mark Zuckerberg started at 10. Bill Gates wrote his first software program at the age of 13.” These words come from a commercial used by many coding institutions for children in China. In recent years, an increasing number of parents are enrolling their children in extracurricular coding classes, hoping to give them a head start in today's online and computer-centric world.

According to the “China’s Children Programming Industry Research Report” released by iResearch, as of October 2018, the market size of the children's programming industry was worth about three billion to four billion yuan (446 million to 595 million US dollars), and the user scale was approximately 15.5 million people.

With the expansion of this niche market, the emerging industry of children's programming education has received considerable financing. According to public reports, in 2017, nearly 20 coding education institutions for children in China received funding. The most prominent institution is Codemao. After receiving 120 million yuan (17.82 million US dollars) in Series B financing in November 2017, Codemao got a new round financing of 300 million yuan (44.55 million US dollars) just six months later.

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Post time 2019-4-2 15:29:36 |Display all floors
Children's interest is the priority for learning

In 2013, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other organizations launched the Hour of Code campaign in the United States, which to date, over 100 million students have tried worldwide. In 2014, the UK implemented a national computer course that included coding for children as young as five years old.

“If you don't understand programming, you will be the new illiterate. If you are unable to code, you will lose your ability to survive.” With the rapid development of information technology, some parents are suffering from “scientific anxiety”.

In July 2017, the State Council of China issued the document of the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan. More AI-related and coding courses are expected to be set up in primary and secondary schools, to gradually promote coding, and encourage the entire society to participate in the development and promotion of coding software and games.

In 2017, Zhejiang Province issued a new college entrance examination policy, which stipulated candidates' elective subjects, including ideology and politics, history, geography, physics, chemistry, biology and technology, which contains general technology and information technology. In the college entrance examination, students can choose three of these seven subjects. Programming is included in the category of technology.

However, when several parents were interviewed, it became clear that “scientific anxiety” and tough entrance exams were not the main reasons that parents enrolled their children in coding classes.

Zhang Xuesha, a Beijing citizen, told People’s Daily Online that the reason she signed up for a programming class for her child is to help with her child's concentration, logical thinking, and creativity.

“The content of the coding class must be suitable for the children's learning stage. Destructive encouragement does not have good effects. Therefore, the best way is to follow the children's cognitive growth,” Zhang emphasized.

Many parents regard LEGO training as a stepping stone to programming training. Another Beijing mother, Jiang Yanhui, told People’s Daily Online that her child Hanhan began LEGO classes at age 4.

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Post time 2019-4-2 15:33:17 |Display all floors
Although Hanhan hasn’t learned about programming, she has started to comprehend mechanics. There is a large amount of knowledge involved in the construction of LEGO. Jiang pointed out that the teacher didn’t teach the theory directly, but Hanhan has learned about basic physics while playing in the class, such as gears, lever principle and so on.

“The main reason for enrolling Hanhan in LEGO class is to develop her hands-on skills and spatial thinking. Besides, attending a training class that she has an interest in will provide her more opportunities to get along with others and broaden her horizons,” said Jiang.

Xiong Bingqi, Deputy Director of 21st Century Education Research Institute, told People’s Daily Online that parents must be rational, consider their child's circumstances and should not blindly compare with others. The main intention should be to develop a child's interests, rather than to pursue utilitarian goals.

Charging standard and optimized content are required

Training courses in programming which are highly sought after are a bit pricy for many families. According to a China News Service report in March, the price of children's programming training online is around 300 yuan (about 45 US dollars) per hour. If enrolling for a whole year, that can add up to over 17,000 yuan (about $2,528). If enrolling in an offline course, the price will increase.

The report also noted that the content of coding classes between different training institutions is similar, mostly relying on software from the MIT, such as scratch, and the teaching methods always include game enlightenment and graphics programming.

The lack of a unified charging standard and uneven teaching quality are also a concern to many parents.

According to a China Daily report in November last year, China's first AI textbook series designed for primary and secondary school students is expected to debut in 2019. The series covers the educational demands of students from primary school to high school on AI and provides a systematic framework of AI knowledge.

Currently, there are still some difficulties in the development of the AI education industry including lack of a place in the school curriculum, adequately trained teachers and teaching resources, student learning evaluation and other supporting teaching resources, monotonous teaching environment and teaching methods, to name a few. To this end, some experts have spent nearly five months launching a textbook series, to meet the teaching needs from primary through high school.

“The education sector is now carefully reflecting on whether learning coding should start with the children,” Xiong Bingqi noted.

According to Xiong’s suggestions, on the one hand, it is vital to carry out scientific argumentation on teaching content, and to achieve individualized education and to teach students by aptitude and talent, so that children can grow up and develop better. On the other hand, it is necessary to promote reform of the education evaluation system, to reverse the unscientific evaluation of education, such as assessing only by scores and school entrance opportunities.

“On this basis, new education courses like AI can enter the schools to nurture children better,” he said.

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Post time 2019-4-2 22:58:39 |Display all floors
ceciliazhang Post time: 2019-4-2 15:33
Although Hanhan hasn’t learned about programming, she has started to comprehend mechanics. There is ...

When Programmable Logic Array was introduced, it was as if those who were able to program were highly paid. Then came the computer but it changed programming little.

Soon, the code would be simple and easy to learn just like MicroSoft application software. Those products with long learning just to code will find themselves on the heap of rubbish in the bin.

This is the Plain Pain Truth!

It is the order of the jungle!

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Post time 2019-4-2 23:01:19 |Display all floors

A new and more powerful type of microprocessors will rise over the horizon.

Today, if a product takes time to learn its programming and then start to program it, then it will isolate itself from reach of user!

Please note!

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Post time 2019-4-3 11:43:03 |Display all floors
If the kids are really amazed by what they can pull off with coding skills, they would plunge themselves into learning that...
Believe it or not, it's true.

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Post time 2019-4-3 15:22:13 |Display all floors
Most of jobs we hold today will disappear in a decade or two due to automation so yes the kids should be equipped with computer programming knowledge and hopefully have a worthwhile skill. The days of anyone ensuring a stable job are gone in a world of AI and robots.

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