Skip to main content

Online education? Why kids need a world filled with colours, not coding skills

By Anirudh Agarwal*

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity” -- Albert Einstein
Coding is a short reference to the use of programming languages to provide lengthy sets of instructions for a computer to perform specific tasks. The continuous lines of text written behind the fancy looking websites and apps are what constitute as code for the application. The idea of the programming language being very similar to human languages like English or French has been debated a long time.
While learning English or French, a student learns to talk and recite as well as write while people communicating with them immediately understand any mistakes and make corrections. However, a computer language cannot be spoken, its only written and doesn’t talk about real world objects like apples, oranges or clouds.
The ‘objects’ in code have a completely different connotation. If a single comma (,) also goes out of place, the computer is not smart enough to spell check or be able to correct you, it’ll only reply with an error. Now imagine a long set of instructions and the countless errors the computer can throw, that testing for errors is actually a full-time IT job role.

Small kids and coding

Recently, the country has seen a growing trend where parents are having their small kids as old as 6 years learn coding through online platforms. The idea of coding is painted in such bright light while the reality is far from it. Coding is not a world filled with colours, robot designs, and games. It’s rather the opposite of it, where it writes colours as 6 digit numbers, pictures as another set of defined words and is devoid of any real world creativity.
The advertisements circling around how kids could become millionaire CEOs after learning to code and misleading quotes from top CEOs like Sundar Pichai, Bill Gates, etc. are taken out of context to fuel the peer pressure to learn coding.
Presently, small kids are already subjected to tuitions and coaching with parents trying their best to get their kids to learn as many things as possible, just so their kid wouldn’t be left behind in this imaginary race against others. Simantini Dhuru, a film director, social activist and ardent promoter of the Avehi Abacus Project (which creates educational material to help students understand the link between their different subjects); says she is hardly surprised by this.
With India being the largest education market and on the boom of technology, companies are going to drive the young generation to make profits especially on the shoulder of parents who are highly aspirational. She agrees that parents feel that Coding is something their kids need to learn early or they might miss the train.
Many academicians believe that early education should be more open-ended and interactive, before kids can grow up to become “experts” in any field. Margaret Leary, chair and director of curriculum at the National Cyberwatch Centre is stated to say that studies have shown that every 2 years, 60% of technical skills become obsolete, which means that programming language learnt at the age of 5 or 6 will essentially be of no use by the time the child is at 20.

The Fear of missing out (FOMO)

The fear of missing out on the technological revolution by not participating in coding is completely misplaced. For kids to be successful in a technology world, they should rather think more creatively, innovatively and expansively. Saying coding jobs are the most in-demand jobs is a bit of a misleading statement. Even within IT sector there are many different kinds of jobs.
Those who are just involved in testing, some roles are actually maintenance crew given that software glitches and problems happen all the time with the clients using the software, while only some are actually writing a part of a new software. In India, contrary to the popular belief, sales and marketing jobs are the most in-demand, and not IT jobs, according to a survey conducted by ManpowerGroup India in early 2020.
Misleading quotes from top CEOs like Sundar Pichai, Bill Gates, etc. are taken out of context to fuel the peer pressure to learn coding
Recently, Pradeep Poonia, an engineer who had gone on to criticize the ed-tech startup WhiteHarJr.’s marketing tactics calling it a Ponzi scheme. Byju’s WhiteHarJr. aims to provide coaching of coding to kids aged 6-14 and Poonia claims that the much advertised Wolf Gupta, who is a 13-year old kid that learnt AI and got a job at Google for some crore rupee package is completely bogus.
The ASCI has asked Byju’s owned coding startup to take down its some of its advertisements against complaints that they made fake and misleading claims. The marketing message is again intended to induce fear among parents that their kid might miss out on something revolutionary.
Experts of any field do not start that young at the age of 6-10. Take surgeons, physicists, astronauts or even lawyers as examples, none of them start out so early. No big lawyer was understanding the legal framework of the constitution being six years old so why should being a software developer be any different. The majority of the successful technological experts did not start so early, yet the few examples of who did are highlighted in the media.

Thinking skills, not coding skills

The kids have only a limited bandwidth after their school. In that free time, they can either learn to code or enjoy crayoning, exercising, interact with different people and expand their horizons of thought. Engaging in creative thought activity brings out ideas and shapes their understanding of the world. It builds their ability to think of the world in a different way and identify problems in everyday life that can be solved.
Sundar Pichai is not known for his coding skills, he is rather appreciated for his vision of the Google Chrome web browser. Bill Gates may have started coding early, but his vision for Microsoft is what made him successful and not his ability to code windows.
Similarly, today we have entrepreneurs, scientists and even software developers thinking about the next frontier because learning to code as Dhuru says is like becoming an electrician. You can fix a light bulb if it goes bad yourself or you could get someone to do it but thinking about the functioning of the bulb or the smartphone is not something enabled by learning to code.

What parents should be do

Parents should take a step back and evaluate, what their child is ultimately gaining from this exercise. There are alternate activities that can keep the child engaged like learning a musical instrument or even dancing. Parents should think back to their childhood about all the times spent playing and crayoning, and that would now be deprived from their children in the name of coding.
The future is about innovation, not just in technology but actually in thought as all technology we see today are tangible outcomes of ideas. Those ideas are worth millions and not the product. An Iphone today costs about 1 lakh rupees give or take, depending upon the model you choose but the ideas behind making the iphone powers the trillion dollar apple company. Investing in developing moral values in children and engaging them in creative activity will be most beneficial as well as help them have happy childhood memories for life.
---
*Second year MBA student at Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, graduated as Electrical Engineer from IIT Kharagpur

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as