Macbook with coffee

Why everyone should not learn to code

Coding is hard people. Really hard. We can safely blame Steve Jobs for the “Everyone should learn to code” movement. And add Mark Zucks into the mix. Here is the man the legend himself advocating for everyone to learn how to code:

Steve jobs saying we should all learn to code

The man presents a valid point; Learning how to code will teach you critical thinking and problem solving skills. But wait, I have a counter, why don’t we create neutral curriculum activities that teach critical thinking and problem solving without public static void fun boolean?

Accumulated knowledge is never wasted

Learning is a good thing. Collecting knowledge that you can later apply in life to better yourself or the lives of other people is a positive. However, learning just for the sake of learning is pointless. This is already a major flaw within the designs of traditional curricula. I collected a fair bit of knowledge in Geography, Mathematics, Physics and the other 12 subjects we were forced to learn. (During my time in high school, in order to better understand ourselves and choose a career path, we were made to take 15 subjects. Yes, they made us do sciences, practicals, commercials and arts disciplines. I know stuff about metal-work and woodwork that I will never apply). All that time was time I could have invested into something I use today.

Remember, the brain is a hard drive with “limited” storage space

Do not take our worthless word for it, the guys over at Wired have a nice article on how the brain stores and retrieves stuff. The more you add to the storage, the harder it will become to organize and retrieve said stuff on demand. So simply learning for the sake of learning might not only be a waste of time, but make it harder to read the bits and bytes in your gray matter.

Coding is hard

Anyone and their dog can sign up for a boot-camp and learn how to code. (Remember to take this with you). After a quick boot-camp, you can create a Hello World app in Python or JavaScript and add fancy bells and whistles. But actually investing in learning good design principles, following coding guidelines etc? Your boot-camp or the boatload of tutorials online will not teach you that. Look, even in production software, I have seen code that will make you want to blow your brains out. Software code written by people with years of experience. So, with this in mind, should we have people learning to code as a side-quest just to gain a skill that can be better taught without all the complexity of coding?

In that case, everyone should learn {INSERT ANY SKILL HERE}

If as a race we take that stance, to say coding is beneficial because it will teach everyone how to think, then we should learn everything. Knowledge of medicine and what doctors do could teach you how to save someone’s life. Let’s teach everyone medicine!

Oh and what about Mark Zuckerberg?

There was a time when everyone everywhere wanted to launch a multi-billion dollar start-up because Mark did it with his coding skills. Their stories and successes created this mass exodus of everyone wanting to learn how to code. While this can be good for your start-up, it would be advisable to get a good coder and focus on whatever it is that you do best.

And with that, I bid you farewell and see you on the next one.