Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Beyond Literacy


If you’re not familiar with code.org, you should be. It’s a vast nonprofit initiative to make computer science part of the core curriculum in all US schools. Digital jobs are the future of our economy, and code.org wants everyone to be code literate.

Universal code literacy is a laudable goal, but it’s just the first step for our economic recovery. While it is only an initial opportunity, it does open the door to many possible career paths.

Not everyone who acquires code literacy can become a programmer. However, being code literate helps you understand the intentions and methods behind the software you use.

As for programming jobs, code literacy is minimal entry level. Employers, as always, will prefer experience. Hence, beyond literacy the goal is experience, just as the goal beyond experience is competence, and beyond competence, excellence.

Understanding the syntax of a programming language will not make you a programmer any more than understanding the syntax of a written language makes you a writer. In both disciplines, you learn by doing, especially from your mistakes.

One thing coding is not, is an academic discipline. Like writing, it is a practical art. Unlike writing, it requires continual learning to keep up with the ongoing development of new programming languages and state-of-the-art equipment.

Programmers are not so much hired on what they know as their ability to learn. Becoming code literate is the first step in demonstrating that capability. Afterwards, learning on the job is usually informal, requiring both initiative and self-discipline.

Code literacy opens many doors. Career paths beyond are challenging because they are unlimited and always changing. Yet, insights are available to ease the journey. See the next post.

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