In recent years, coding has become a huge trend in elementary school education. PBS Kids’ own Scratch Jr is one of many apps and tools meant to teach children the mechanics of machines. Piecing together codes, connecting characters’ movements to their direction, designing a world for them to live in — these lessons serve as an introduction to “computational thinking,” what researchers are calling even more important than the coding itself.
Claire Cain Miller and Jess Bidgood explore this thinking in the New York Times’ article, “How to Prepare Preschoolers for an Automated Economy.” Together they discuss how, while coding can be great for kids, it isn’t enough. Because the world is changing quickly and we have little idea what it will look like in ten years, it is just as valuable to nurture the skills that “machines can’t easily replicate, like empathy, collaboration and problem-solving.” These problem solving skills, strengths that largely come from playing with other children, go beyond the reach of computers and will be even more valuable as technology advances.