In the Introduction to “The Role of Computational Literacy in Computers and Writing”, a line towards the end intrigued me when it quoted Aristotle as saying “people become builders by building”. I agree with that statement, but not necessarily the context of its use. Experience is obviously and integral part of learning, so the struggle of learning to code should be an experiential education. However, I would argue that broadly saying everybody must learn how to code isn’t an accurate assessment. There are professions and disciplines that require more coding than others. There is certainly an argument to be made that coding should be more integral in certain fields, but that’s not true of all disciplines.
For example, I’m an economics major and, in my opinion, coding is a skill that should be learned by all economics majors, regardless of why they are obtaining the degree. The bulk of economics is the creation and adaption of various models to run simulations that accurately depict the behavior of individuals in relation to resources. So as an economics major, I’ve had to do some modeling of various behaviors or use already created models and input data to determine an outcome. One of the more popular programs used by the department is Stata. (There are several others, but most Econ 400 professors will teach Stata. Here’s a link to see what it looks like: http://www.stata.com/.) Stata isn’t necessarily a coding tool, although it does have some coding features. But it does have its own language, which makes it relatively applicable to this article.
The reason I’m not onboard with broadly saying “everybody should coding” is for two reasons. One, not everybody needs to learn how to code. There are plenty of professions and disciplines that don’t require coding, because their method of communication isn’t related to programming. Two, for the people that should learn to code, there is a wide range of various systems they might need to learn. I learned Stata and that is enough for me to be a good economics major or researcher at an economics firm. However, if I wanted to create my own models, I would need to learn further, which is why I’m in favor of programming becoming a more integral part of the economics field of study. But, I will qualify all of this with the thought that this is something to be reevaluated constantly. The professions and disciplines that I mention don’t need to learn coding currently might change and shift over the next five years. There might come a time when everybody should learn coding, but I don’t think we’ve reached that time.