Great innovations and solutions have come and gone, but they still serve as stairs to climb onto another level. Computer programming and innovation have changed the world. However, people with a taste for this are limited. We still discriminate amongst ourselves between what we can and cannot do. In her essay, Is Coding the New Literacy? Tasneem Raja discusses the importance of coding and computational thinking in everyones lives. She throws more emphasis on females of different races. However, her main point hammers on the fact that coding should be made an essential skill.
As a woman that speaks about gender-related issues at work, Raja tackles misconceptions about gender and coding. She also makes podcasts for NPRs (National Public Radio) Code Switch Team, where they provide feedback on how race and identity affects a person. Raja being successful in what she does and knowing what race can pertain to the functionality of an individual helps to motivate people of color to engage with computer related issues.
Throughout her essay, she gave examples of how people used coding and computational thinking to solve everyday problems. She hammers on the fact that anyone can have computational thinking and does not mean coding is impossible. She compares computational thinking to cooking, where one improvises with available ingredients to create a meal. She reaches out more to the female audience with this point. She explains that of girls develop the ability to think like this and code, it would be an evolutionary act.
She mentions organizations like Black Girls Code, which rallies young black females to introduce them to coding. She also mentions the fact that women who already knew coding from the past had already done extraordinary things, like the contribution to the first moon landing. She ends her essay stating that more coding literacy campaigns should be organized, or we would be stuck in the Dark Ages. I agree with Tasneem Raja, coding should be made an essential skill to every individual and will break barriers that hold us back from moving forward.
We still face a lot of problems as a human race. Most of which we are not able to solve with the limited skills that we have. Mostly, every problem has a solution if we think hard enough. Raja argues that coding has become the building blocks of the world and that these little changes can cause a huge revolution. She explains that when we look at our problems from a computational perspective, solving it would be easier and effective. After writing about the Adopt-A-Hydrant program where young coders utilized their abilities to solve the problems of finding hydrants after a snowstorm, Raja writes, Sounds great, right? These simple software solutions could save lives, and they were cheap and quick to build. Unfortunately, most cities will never get a CFA team, and most can’t afford to keep a stable of sophisticated programmers in their employ, either (par.5). She explains that with the help of programmers, little things that we thought we could not do and what no one wanted to do was done instantly and easily. She also writes that even brand-name tech firms offer employees up to $10,000 if they help to recruit an engineer, showing the zeal for a talent search (par.5). I agree; since we are in a technological era, solving problems with the old means would be less functional and archaic and it would provide new and interesting method would get more hands on the job. It would be a revolution! If computer programmers can solve real-life problems through coding, it would motivate young ones to pick up the mantle to travel down the same path leading to more coders shaping the world and solving more problems. The main emphasis here is being directed at young ones, and I agree with that. Young people have more adventurous cognition and think broadly. They are easily encouraged, curious, and would work hard if what theyre doing would get them a good name, or fill their pockets. Some young people also find great interest in it because its fun once they tried it. Overall, utilizing computational means for problem-solving has proven to be helpful and will shape our world for the future.
Raja explains a term called Computational Thinking (C.T.). She explains that Computational Thinking is the ability to put together things around you, take it through a specific process to arrive at a goal. She states that one does not need to be a computer programmer or a coder to have Computational Thinking. In fact, she points out that anyone can have Computational Thinking. Raja compares C.T. to cooking in the kitchen where one puts together a limited number of ingredients, knowing very well what he/she should do to achieve the desired meal. She writes, As the cities that have hosted Code for America teams will tell you, the greatest contribution the young programmers bring isn’t the software they write. It’s the way they think. It’s a principle called computational thinking, and knowing all of the Java syntax in the world won’t help if you can’t think of good ways to apply it (par.9). She also writes:
Much like cooking, computational thinking begins with a feat of imagination, the ability to envision how digitized informationticket sales, customer addresses, the temperature in your fridge, the sequence of events to start a car engine, anything that can be sorted, counted, or trackedcould be combined and changed into something new by applying various computational techniques. (par. 14)
Comparing Computational Thinking to cooking was a good example by Raja. Its not a confusing metaphor but something we do in our everyday lives. In their article, A K-6 Computational Thinking Curriculum Framework: Implications for Teacher, Charoula Angeli, Joke Voogt, Andrew Fluck, Mary Webb, Margaret Cox, Joyce, Malyn-Smith and Jason Zagami claim, educational curriculums for young ones especially, should contain Computational Thinking (47). The authors explain that having teachers that can teach Computational Thinking to kids would help them look at the world from a different perspective. They write that knowing how to code without knowing Computational Thinking would be an act of vanity. They explain that C.T. is a thought process that uses the elements of abstraction, generalization, decomposition, algorithmic thinking and debugging (49). Indeed, C.T. being administered to children would help bring out great qualities in them. Also, teaching children C.T. will encourage them to solve more problems, and try to code. It would be like a new form of literacy, where it becomes a part of them. If this is practiced in a long-run, it could shape the future.
Over the years, inequality in the work place still happens. In a job more dominated by men, women would be less likely to join in. Raju argues that people of color, especially women, limit themselves into thinking computationally. She writes that mostly black girls think they do not have what it takes to go into computer related things. Most girls come with responses that coding is not girl material. However, Raja writes that girls who have associated themselves in computer related issues have solved greater problems. She also states that females contributed to the moon landing. Raja compares Computational Thinking to cooking to target females who think they are not fully capable of such a skill. She writes, A female mathematician named Ada Lovelace wrote the first algorithm ever intended to be executed on a machine in 1843. The term programmer was used during World War II to describe the women who worked on the world’s first large-scale electronic computer, the ENIAC machine, which used calculus to come up with tables to improve artillery accuracy (par. 59). I agree that females can be as creative and possibly more creative than males. Indeed, Rajas article provides motivation for females to harness that inner creativity. If the term programmer was sourced from women, women should have a bigger hand in it. However, since computer programming is largely dominated by men, females have a smaller tendency to feel encouraged to join in. The lost idea here is everyone has an equal chance. In their article, Exploring the effects of gender and learning styles on computer programming performance: implications for programming pedagogy, Lau Wilfred and Yuen, Allan H. K., claim gender does not play a role in learning styles and in programming performance (705). She also writes about an organization called Black Girls Code. Its an organization that introduces young black girls to coding. If females develop equal chances in computer programming, the world would head for a great revolution.
Overall, I think Rajas suggestions need to be heeded. Computational Thinking would help solve problems, gender boundaries need to be broken, and we need to solve more life problems with the knowledge we have. All these ideas and more would help change the world. There should be more organizations to reach out to help young ones of different races and gender to get introduced to coding like the Black Girls Code. Also, there should be more coding camps where people with the skill can come together to solve problems. After all, good talent cannot go to waste. Individual goals should not be set to just Facebook or Google, we are made to be innovative, and thats exactly what we must do.