Viral Campaign Wants Coding Alongside the Three R’s

Students need to be more tech-savvy to be competitive in the workforce, education leaders say.

The three R’s — reading, writing and arithmetic — may seem set in stone. But there’s a campaign afoot to add the letter C to the mix, for coding.

"Education is about preparing kids for life, and public education is about helping people have equal opportunity, helping those who don't have as much money have a more level playing field," said Ali Partovi, co-founder of Code.org, during an interview at Big Ideas Fest.

Code.org wants to encourage schools to adopt computer programming as a requirement in their science curriculum. Currently, most schools that include coding feature it as an elective course.

So far, the group has had some success, boasting that more than 2 billion lines of code have been written by more than 41 million students who have tried at least an hour of their program.

Students can learn the basics of coding, become acquainted with programming languages such as Python, learn to build their own apps and more.

As reported in The New York Times, Code.org claims that this year alone, 20,000 K–12 teachers have brought coding into the classroom.

Such instruction could help lessen the substantial gender gap in a profession whose workers are predominantly male. Currently, some of the biggest names in tech are working to find their own solutions to the coding gender gap.

And some students have taken instruction into their own hands. Codeacademy, an online course provider, reports that 24 million coding students have taken lessons through its site.

Just how many of those student will complete their instruction, or how many of the K–12 students currently learning coding at school will use their what they’ve learned, remains to be seen. But in the 21st century job market, adding another skill to the three R’s can't hurt.

Mihai Maxim/ThinkStock
Sep 05 2014

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