The “SuperPower” That Is NOT Taught in 90% of Schools…

by on September 27, 2013 · 15 comments

A friend of mine who is in high school asked me – “what is one piece of advice you could give me that would help me in my career the most?”

Here is what I told her:

Learn to code.


(I love this video!)

I got interested in computers as a kid when I saw my first computer game. I got so excited about computers that I had to figure out how they worked and how to program them. This led me to an awesome career in the computer industry that I still love today.

Speaking of careers, here’s an interesting statistic: in the next seven years, 1.4 million computer jobs will be created, and only 400,000 people will be qualified to fill them That’s one million high-paying jobs wide open for the taking.

Yet 9 out of 10 schools do not offer computer programming classes. Here we are, still training our kids for industrial age jobs.

Why is learning to code important?

Learning to code is important for three reasons:

Reason #1 – Computers and Software are in almost every job

60% of all jobs are in the tech industry, or at least require the ability to use a computer. You’d be hard pressed to get a job in this day and age that doesn’t require you to work with a computer in some way.

Reason #2 – Computers are still hard to use

Have you ever tried to teach someone who has no experience how to use a computer, or even a new iPad? Using a computer can be extremely frustrating.

This is because computers and software interfaces today are still in their infancy. Seriously. Even that fancy iPad you have still frustrates you at every turn. Getting frustrated with your PC or Mac is a daily occurrence. If you notice, you will find that most of the time when you are using a computer you are “working around” limitations in that computer or the software that runs on it.

So if you know how computers work, and have even done a little bit of programming, then you can easily work around the limitations of today’s computers.

Reason #3 – Having this skill opens the doors to new opportunities

I mentioned in #2 that computers and software today are still in their infancy. They are hard to use, requiring us to work around their limitations.

This means there is a TON of work to do to make computers better. This spells opportunity. Talk about lifetime job security. This industry has it. And if you are not working in the computer industry, your knowledge gives you an “edge” that many others don’t have.

Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer… because it teaches you how to think. -Steve Jobs

What do you think? Do you know how to program a computer? Will you teach your kids?

If you want to get started, this site is a fantastic place to start: code.org.

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Charley September 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Great post Don. I completely agree with you.

I heard a quote recently where someone said something to the effect of, “In the future there will be two kinds of jobs. One will tell a computer what to do, and the other will be told by a computer what to do.”

What languages would recommend starting out to learn?

Reply

Don Campbell September 28, 2013 at 8:40 am

Hi Charley,
Code.org has some excellent starter ideas. There is a programming system called Scratch that gets kids started with programming and logic, without having to write code.

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Yvonne Herbst September 27, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Love this video and its message .. thank you for sharing! Now I’m going to encourage my son and daughter to study coding in college!

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Don Campbell September 28, 2013 at 8:42 am

I’m working on my kids too. I’ve gone through some basic HTML with them, and it’s been fun to watch them. The nice thing about it is they can start with some really little/easy changes and build from there.

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Kathy October 1, 2013 at 8:48 am

Excellent Advice! My dad taught me all I know about computers. It’s one of the best things he could have ever made me do. It has truly opened doors for all different jobs throughout my career.

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Derek October 14, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Wow!
I was getting worried that the only thing my home-schooled son had any interest in was programming.
He’s been home schooled since age 11, now 14.5, and I just got him a new laptop with enough spec to start programming games in C sharp.
He loves it, gets excited about the actual code – “Hey, I just learned about loops” he tells his mother, and anyone else in the vicinity. What a character!
We decided to let him follow his heart to find his path – and this is where he ended up.
God, we even have to tell him to go outside and get some fresh air, turn off that computer and eat, and still he’ll get up at 6am, wash, meditate, and then get stuck in for the day! Whoa…
Anyway, that’s great news..
Thanks Don

Reply

phil October 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Hey Don,

Thought you might be interested in this: http://www.robotturtles.com/

Robot Turtles is a board game you play with your favorite 3-8 year old kids. It sneakily teaches the fundamentals of programming.

Robot Turtles launched on Kickstarter, where it became the bestselling board game of all time…..

Reply

William Thiry October 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Hey Don,

Is it too late for a guy in his mid-40’s to learn code and get started on such a career? Any advice?

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L Rob November 19, 2013 at 12:48 am

Try: http://www.lynda.com

They have good tutorials there, not only about coding but other stuff like marketing, etc.

Reply

John September 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Hi William,

It’s definitely not too late for you. I taught myself how to program beginning in 1998. A year later I was working for a small tech startup in Connecticut. Six months after that I was standing in front of the entire company of about 120 people accepting a trophy from the CEO for my “commitment to excellence” (I also received a raise, a promotion and a bonus). The company had about 20 seasoned programmers. I was the only one recognized.

Moral of the story:
If you have high standards for yourself, you can be successful – because so many others don’t. I’ve worked with numerous programmers who were hacks and did just enough not to get fired. So take heart.

I started with Visual Basic 6 but today you might want to consider Visual C# or PHP. The best source I have found for an absolute beginner to learn programming is http://johnsmiley.com/

Professor Smiley will teach you how to not only write code but also how to design the software as well – employers are looking for that. I highly recommend that you start with him. You can buy his books (digital copy) for about $13 on his website. They’re also available on Amazon.com. BTW, I don’t recommend the dummies books or the SAMS Teach Yourself series.

Good Luck!

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Kelsey October 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I definitely agree! I have been looking to get more involved in Girls Who Code, which a non-profit that teaches engineering and programming to girls.

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A Critic November 21, 2013 at 12:39 am

“Getting frustrated with your PC or Mac is a daily occurrence.”

That’s why I use Linux.

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Don Campbell September 3, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Lol – I think it’s cool that Mac OS X is based on BSD Unix.

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Aaron September 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Hey Don,
What is your opinion of using an Arduino to introduce students to coding and understanding the basics of microprocessors? I am hoping to get a grant for a class set in my science room and use them throughout the year.
Thanks.

Reply

Don Campbell September 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Great idea! I got an Arduino and did a project with my daughters. We got a little motion sensor and set up a motion alarm on my younger daughter’s doorway. So whenever a dog or cat or sister enters the room, the lights flash and an alarm sounds. We had a great time working on this and I think it was a great introduction to computers…

Good luck with your class – I hope you get the grant!

Reply

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