As someone who finished high school six years ago, I went through the entire primary and secondary schooling systems without being taught how to write a single line of code. Instead, my introduction to software development concepts came from some random places, like writing simple puzzles in Excel or programming a game into a graphics calculator.
The team at Lab3 were all reflecting recently on what made us want to leap into the world of software and app development. Our experiences were all different, and a couple of us had never written a line of code before starting University degrees. However, there was one common theme: that everything we’d learned about software development came from outside of the New Zealand education system.
The Technology curriculum, until last year, was largely based on a document laid out in the mid-90’s, when the percentage of households with a PC sat around 17%. But within six short years, it feels like the attitudes around Digital Technology in the New Zealand curriculum have changed drastically. In 2017, thanks to the efforts of advocates of the benefits of Digital Technology education, the government officially added Digital Technologies to the Technology learning area of the NZ Curriculum.
As the world becomes more connected, there is an ever-increasing need for digital literacy amongst a wide range of fields. Through organisations such as Code.org, well-known figures and world leaders such as Barack Obama and Richard Branson have been outspoken about the need to better teach computer science as an essential life skill. They agree that the best way to both promote economic growth and to increase employment rates is to remove the barriers put up by a lack of diverse digital technology knowledge.
It will take a while for the benefits of these changes to be obvious, but broadening options to account for the ever-changing workforce is extremely important for both innovation and for preparing young Kiwis for the economic landscape they will be moving into from secondary school. We’re really glad to see the changes that are taking place and welcome the shifting attitudes to incorporating tech knowledge in education.
While it may mean we have more competition in the workforce in 5–10 year’s time, we believe the economy, employment rates, and the world, in general, will be all the better for it.
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