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Teach Creativity - Not Programming

Current wisdom in education is that children should be taught computer programming. The claim is that computer programming is an important skill and that individuals who can program will always have jobs. That claim is faulty.

Over the last decade there has been an increase in the functionality of the computer. Computer memory and processing speeds have increased. Computers, programmed by humans, have become adept at storing information and calculating problem answers. Indeed, computers are likely more accurate and certainly faster at these tasks than the humans who programmed them.

However, machines will likely write computer code in the future. Humans will specify the design, but computers will write the actual code. While it can be useful to understand computer languages and algorithms, the ability to write computer code is less useful.

Moreover, any job that involves repetition and lacks creativity is likely to become outmoded because computers and other machines can do such jobs more efficiently and effectively. In other words, we must realize that such jobs are not likely to have a long-term future as computers become more powerful and ubiquitous.

Additionally, while a firm grounding in STEM subjects is logical, critical thinking techniques need to support these base concepts. Just as important, children need to be taught how to activate, develop, and sustain their creativity. The goal should be to teach children how to use their imaginations and create new meaning in complex scenarios. This is important because computers can’t do these things. Indeed, creativity is not what computers do best.

Therefore, instead of promoting memorization, rote learning, and computer programming we must place a higher priority and greater emphasis on teaching children to learn quickly, understand context, and be adaptable. The focus should be on pursuits that favor creativity and take advantage of our uniquely human qualities.

We need to rethink the education that we prescribe for our children. Two goals can help in this process:

Teach Creativity

We need to emphasize the importance of creativity and imagination. Creativity can spark new ideas, understanding, and connections.

Teach Children to Love Learning

If learning becomes a passion, it will be a lifelong pursuit. Furthermore, over the course of a lifetime, educational needs will change so individuals must understand that pursuing education is an ongoing necessity.

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