Updated: Oct 26, 2020
Who ever thought AOL would die? Or Kodak, MySpace, and Hotmail? Five years from now, we can't even anticipate the latest AI or AR innovation that will power our homes, but our students tell us in camps and coding classes that companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook are not going away because they are leading innovation. That is true currently, but who ever thought Venmo would become a verb? Who could have imagined that Netlfix's streaming service would eventually overtake their DVD-subscription service? These young kids have never played Oregon Trail or Winter Olympics on a black and green screen on a Apple IIe. They've never had to wait for dial-up connections to be made or seen mobile phones that don't fit in their pocket. How does knowing about these older technologies benefit them? Are we teaching languages and technology that will not be relevant in their future?
First, coding is becoming more popular as software engineering talent is in demand. Coding is a new literacy that teaches problem-solving which is valuable no matter what language we use to teach kids to code. Once they understand the concepts, they will easily be able to pick up other languages. Our teaching approach fits how real developers learn new languages, by building something practical and applying their knowledge. The culture around technology and learning to code is something that kids should embrace in order to open their eyes, open doors, and get them curious and asking questions about the exciting developments around them.
Secondly, learning about technology that will later become obsolete is like learning about history. We study social events in school, why not the history of technology so that we understand how we arrived at where we are today? The evolution of technology is as interesting as the history of our country. You can study the invention of electricity, refrigeration, cars, phones, and the Internet. Today's innovations are changing the way we live, with Ring doorbells, Nest thermostats, smart watches, and smart devices. General knowledge of where we came from is relevant and makes a well-rounded individual.
And lastly, everyone who learned coding as a kid and marveled at the Apple IIe has nostalgia about Basic and their first language. To be able to participate and relate to that feeling makes a person feel like part of a community. These days, when Minecraft and Roblox is all the rage, I wonder ten years from now when they are no longer popular, if kids will reflect fondly on these games and think they played a significant role in their childhood.
In summary, while it's likely that the technology of today may not be present when kids are older, learning about the latest trends helps them appreciate and evaluate new trends, gives them an understanding of the rich history and evolution of technology, and helps them belong to a growing community of young developers and innovators.