Let’s teach kids how to code

What a great initiative from the leaders of our field: “code.org is a non-profit foundation dedicated to growing computer programming education.”

Programming “is the closest thing we have to a superpower” :-)

(Drew Houston, Founder and CEO of Dropbox)

I love to code. It’s my hobby, my way of expressing myself, my art, my profession. I use computer programming as a way of creating, as the way of challenging myself to learn more, as a way of keeping my mind active.

I was in my very early teens. I spent any money I could find on arcade games. In Greece, at the time, it was illegal for someone under 18 to enter any place with arcade games. Still, I always found a way.

My parents somehow discovered my secret addiction. Being the progressive and forward thinking parents they’ve always been and despite the fact that they had no clue about computers, they decided to borrow a ZX Spectrum for a week from a friend of the family. They thought, as I found out much later in life, that rather than trying to keep me out of arcade game rooms, it might be better to bring those computer games into our living room.

I tried to print “hello world” in an infinite loop on the TV using ZX’s Sinclair BASIC language (yes, rather than just typing a command, you had to find the right combination of keys when programming). The feeling of having created something out of nothing was amazing. That was it, I got hooked. My enthusiasm was obvious. As a result, my parents got me an Amstrad 64 (the one with the tape player) which was later upgraded to an Amstrad 128. I played games, learnt how to program by reading magazines and books, took classes outside school, experimented a LOT. I earned my first money using my newly founded computer skills as a teenager, writing Commodore 64 programs for a local TV station. I helped with the high-school’s newspaper, taught others, joined a computer club.

Computer Science became my high-level education major. Despite the nine years of university studies and three degrees (BSc, MSc, PhD), I still think that I know nothing, that I learn everyday from the many smart people that are around me in this field. I am still motivated and feel challenged. Isn’t this a wonderful feeling to have throughout one’s career?

I once asked Jim Gray if he ever planned to retire given his continued enthusiasm and energy for Computer Science. He told me that as long as he was able to think, be creative, and be useful to others, he was planning on carrying on. I aspire to do the same!

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” (Steve Jobs, The Lost Interview)

I subscribe to code.org’s vision:

Our vision is that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn how to code.  We believe computer science and computer programming should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.

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