Should kids learn only mathematics and not coding?

One of the arguments against kids and teenagers learning coding these days is that – kids don’t need to learn coding, and instead what they should really learn is mathematics alone. Because eventually you don’t want to learn the syntax of something, you want to learn a tool that helps you to solve problems. And mathematics is the bedrock for all problem-solving in the world.

Yes, this is true. But, there is a problem with this argument. This argument assumes that when kids learn mathematics, they’re learning it in such a way that they can readily apply it to problems of the real world. No, they’re not learning that way. Most children, when they’re learning mathematics, are not learning the tool for applicative problem solving. They’re just learning a bunch of formulas and solving the stuff around those topics such as linear equations, trigonometry, geometry, algebra, basic calculus, etc. Children often have to learn a lot more mathematical theory in order to be able to start imagining and solving theoretical mathematics and applied mathematics problems with pure math alone.

Therefore, coding comes to the rescue of learning mathematics and logical thinking!

Learning coding helps to visualize and to apply mathematics as a tool to solve problems in a more “real and practical” manner. For example, when you learn logarithms and logarithmic equations in mathematics, children may learn how to solve the problems required to score well in the exam, but they may not learn how to use logarithms in a practical way to deal with large numbers. While coding, children learn at a young age that if you want to work with very very large numbers then there are restrictions to store these very very large numbers in datatypes, and hence you work with logarithms and exponents as a way around to work with large numbers.

Similarly, while learning calculus or geometry, learning coding helps apply these theoretical concepts in a more visual, practical, and applicable way to solve real world problems. Even designing an application like a small number puzzle using coding involves the application of number theory and number lines to develop the application in the right way. So, coding indirectly and directly supports and enhances mathematical and logical thinking in children and more importantly it develops children in “how to think” and to organize their thinking and approach to solve problems while applying the mathematical concepts they’re learning. This indirectly creates more curiosity among children to start thinking with a “mathematical” and “problem-solving” mindset, and it also enables the children to work more towards developing their mathematics to apply in practice.

At UnicMinds, we provide a range of coding courses for kids, tweens, and teenagers. All the curriculum is integrated with subject knowledge that they’re learning in their academics and we involve children in exercises and programming tasks that require them to think and then apply the mathematical theory learnt in school. If required, we teach them and enhance their practical application of the mathematical theory required to solve a programming task.

Should kids learn only mathematics and not coding?

Over this experience of teaching coding to thousands of kids at UnicMinds, I am genuinely convinced that coding is not being pushed on kids at a young age. We’ve achieved something remarkable by breaking the barrier that only grownups with significant mathematics exposure can learn to code. Coding can be learned and applied by kids. A substantial change also led to how we program today compared to 10-20 years ago. Earlier, many programming languages were terminal-based, complex syntax oriented, and needed a significant understanding of the platform.

Today, with the advent of simpler programming languages like Python and block-based coding, children can learn crucial logic-based programming by leaving the heavy-duty not so immediately relevant stuff such as syntax. This is like learning coding in a much simpler and more optimized way than how people used to learn 20 years back. This is also one of the reasons why kids today can do stuff in programming that only and only grownups used to do in their 20s a few years back.

Therefore, let’s not doubt this revolution anymore and let our kids freely learn and be highly literate in the process of building stuff via software and hardware. Because there are not many things in this world that give a person as much happiness and satisfaction as building things that make something better, it allows the wonder in the kid to be nurtured and brought to reality. It will enable kids to learn much more about “how things work” and be a part of the design and development of building things from a young age.

I hope this is useful, thank you.