Coding – more important than you think

By Hannah Botia

Let’s admit, we’re all guilty of taking a sneak peek at our phones at the dinner table. We have all been at an awkward event and just wanted to run away, so instead we vanish into the digital world in our hands. Technology is a remarkable and exceedingly beneficial thing that all of us in the UK are privileged enough to have at our disposal. However, do we really know how it got there? Do we really know what makes it so great?

A few days ago, I sat around my fellow teens, their faces irrevocably gawking at the screens in front of them, their eyes consuming messages from friends that sat beside them in deafening silence. A few days ago, I realised something. Whilst we are squeezing every last drop out of Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, we hardly understand how our devices even operate. We hardly know the amount of money we unwittingly hand over to multi-million corporations with a small swipe. We hardly appreciate the amount of algorithms subtly swimming around in applications as we scroll onto that next video. And we hardly realise that we can learn to do the same, literally at the touch of a button (or maybe a few buttons).

Programming. Fairly uncharted territory among the older generation today, who grew up in the outdoors and “lived life in the moment”. Technology back then? Talk about glacially slow. Whilst, these days, coding is integrated into every aspect of our lives, everywhere we turn – and it is advancing at a rapid rate. Our society now is a small glimpse at the future, when there will be no cashiers, no bus drivers, no phone operators, no surgeons, no bartenders, no postmen … everything will be automatic. Not knowing how to code would be a huge handicap, almost like being illiterate in a way. In the eve of tomorrow, children are being brought up in the ways of the past. Coding is an educational must.

Yet, there is this stigma around programming, as if it is something only eggheads with hardwired brains immune to the stench of failure can do. But it is estimated that roughly 18.5 million men and women across the globe are software developers. How can that many people be brainiacs, you say? Simple answer, they aren’t. Coding is by no means a walk in the park, but it is not rocket science either (at first anyway).

Think of coding as just another language to learn, with a little bit more problem solving and logical thinking involved. Unlike other languages, computer lingo can be quite difficult to grasp at first, but over time it becomes easier and easier.

What do Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all have in common? Yes, they are all computer programmers. Yes, they are the founders of huge businesses in tech. Yes, they have made billions because their coding expertise. However, they also all started as ordinary people, in an ordinary garage at an ordinary house, with nothing but an ordinary computer. Sound familiar?

The issue most people have when they begin to take an interest in coding is that they do not know how to start. They do not know where to start. Now, to really learn something, you have to start small, start with the basics. There are many online tutorials to get started but sometimes you just can’t beat joining a coding programme to get up to speed quickly.

Active Coding Academies are launching a summer residential coding programme next month with places still up for grabs!

Despite what you may think, learning to program takes no time at all. You can get the basics down in just a few hours, and you will be able to create your own software in no more than a few weeks. And the good news does not stop there, once you have got the hang of it, you can drag, drop and dispatch yourself on the way to thousands of job opportunities.

Tech is currently one of the fastest growing industries in the world, it is estimated that there are almost 13,000 job opportunities every year in Scotland alone, and it is on an uphill battle to the top.

As more and more teenagers are being lost in likes, retweets and streak scores, we fail to see the future that is waiting not very far away. We are a nation of teachers and parents suffocating by the vines of the past, and we need to realise children should study coding at school and home, before it is too late. As Steve Jobs once said: “Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”

Hannah Botia is on a work experience placement at the Active Coding Academy.