Coding is the Cursive of Today


Sirarpi Topchyan

Remember that primary school teacher who insisted that you needed to learn cursive because you’d use it all your life? Now that you’re in academia, when was the last time you’ve ever been required to use handwriting? This concept is analogous to the recent movement to try and teach younger students how to code. In a few years, coding may become irrelevant, and therefore it’s not going to be a useful skill to teach students.

There are many programs that encourage teaching students to code, with the most popular being Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg’s They donated $10 million to this non-profit that helps teach students how to code and help them understand what coding is. Other programs in place, however, such as Mining and Understanding Software Enclaves (MUSE), which focus more on the evolution of coding and computers than just coding itself, are much more important.

In MUSE, the relatively new program funded by DARPA, there is a movement that includes, according to Kevin Maney, a tech columnist for Newsweek, “assembling a massive collection of chunks of code that can perform almost any task anybody could ever think of and tag all the code so it can automatically be found and assembled.”

The program basically is working towards making sure that all code that has been written and all code that will be written will be stored in an accessible database. DARPA’s statement about MUSE includes the fact that “among the many envisioned benefits of the program are scalable automated mechanisms to identify and repair program errors, and specification-based tools to create and synthesize new, custom programs from existing corpus elements based on properties discovered from this mining activity.” This means that there are already programs in place to help for the advancement of coding, and that coding is already beginning to evolve and streamline.

According to Dr. Suresh Jagannathan, one of the heads of this new program, the data MUSE collects will create such a simple language that even someone who knows nothing about coding can command a computer to do whatever one needs it to.

Jake Levine, the general manager of Digg, argues that learning to code is not nearly as important as learning how to create things, and I have to agree. There is no point in teaching students how to code if they’re never inspired to turn that code into a new computer program or a more innovative Google.

Writing out lines of code and attempting to debug it is basic; what’s really innovative and important is teaching students how to be creative with the programs that are available, and how to turn their ideas into reality. In addition, coding is only going to continue to evolve, and if creativity doesn’t evolve with it, than there is no point to even having those codes available.

Technology advances so quickly that it’s almost impossible to keep up with it, so we should stop trying to unless we emphasize creativity and ingenuity alongside those coding courses. Instead of focusing on cursive when we were students, we should have focused on typing and computer application because that was the newest technology. As cursive has become irrelevant because of newer technology, so will coding. We need to teach students that, along with the lines of code they do create, they must also create new ideas and programs to apply that code to.