If you’ve ever watched the movie Hackers, or followed superhero shows like Arrow and The Flash, then you understand that Hollywood makes coding seem like a glamorous profession. Need information on someone which would otherwise be protected? Hack away. They make it appear as if it only takes a few minutes to hack some of the most complex systems in the world.
The reality is, coding is not glamorous. It’s not something you can do at the drop of a hat or in a matter of minutes. Coding doesn’t just take the knowledge of how it all works, it also takes the knowledge of every possibility under the sun. This isn’t 2+2=4. A machine can only do what it’s programmed to do, can only return answers for which it has the information. Which means that the person behind the programming can’t think in a linear fashion, they must consider every possibility that a person using the machine might think of.
For example, think of a restaurant menu. There are appetizers, entrees, soups, salads, desserts, drinks, etc. Think about all of the combinations that a person could order off of that menu. Maybe someone wants an appetizer and a salad with water to drink. The next person wants nachos, steak, salad, chocolate cake and beer. A third person wants soup, a sandwich, a cookie and a soda. The list goes on. Someone who is coding has to consider all of the items a person might want, in every combination, and write a code to return the correct information based on the input query.
Yes, there is a shortage of coders in the job market. It stands to reason that corporations would want to make this job seem fun, hip and exciting. Those things attract young people, young people are the future of our world and we need them to be active in all sectors, including coding. However, telling them something that flat out isn’t true, or making them believe a job is glamorous without admitting that it’s really hard, does everyone a disservice. It doesn’t matter what that job is.
TheNextWeb.com says, “Insisting on the glamour and fun of coding is the wrong way to acquaint kids with computer science. It insults their intelligence and plants the pernicious notion in their heads that you don’t need discipline in order to progress. As anyone with even minimal exposure to making software knows, behind a minute of typing lies an hour of study.”
It’s unfair to everyone to make this job seem like something it isn’t. Coders need to be ethical, they need to hyperfocus on what they are doing, they need to be analytical and creative all at once. Portraying coding as some flippant job that is easy is nowhere near reality. Moreover, it leads businesses to mistakenly believe that the complexity of coding should take five minutes and be inexpensive.
More and more aspects of our lives are being run by code, more and more decisions are being made by machines, which run on code and make decisions based on what someone has told it to do. There is artificial intelligence and machine learning, but machines are nowhere near ready to take over for humans. They have no inherent knowledge of their own, they know what we tell them to know.
It is vital to the success of our future, it is vital to the success of our planet, it is vital to the success of our economy that we are honest with our kids when it comes to coding and computer science. Because if we continue down this path, when kids then realize they have been mislead, burnout ensues, projects collapse and the shortage of coders grows. And no one wants to see that.