When Did You Learn to Code? How About Your Kids?

I read an interesting interview last night with Christopher Poole. He also goes by the name moot and is the guy that coded the disposable image-sharing site 4chan. Be careful with that last link, though. While hugely popular, and arguably the source for a lot of today’s internet culture (from memes like rage comics and the Picard facepalm, to groups like  bronies and Anonymous) it’s, pretty wild west and can be very N.S.F.W.

Picard Facepalm illustration
image credit: Sparky123445

Besides giving us a place for cat jokes and involved discussions on manga, one thing that makes Christopher Poole interesting is that he coded the site when he was just 15. He worked on it in secret, sacrificing sleep and grades, and launched without telling family or friends until years later. Perhaps not the best of strategies for everyone, but it worked well for him.

Then this morning I saw this article, about an initiative in the UK to formally integrate programming into primary school education. It’s part of a broader set of reforms that have some claiming it will bring a revolution to education, and others only ruin. Like the education debate here in the US, there are clearly passionate opinions on either side.

What do you think? If we, in the US, really want to push STEM education, and maybe encourage the next Christopher Poole, how early should we introduce formal programming? If you know how to code, when did you learn? When do you want our kids to learn?

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