Teach pupils about self before coding

A student coding for a website.
A student coding for a website.PHOTO: ST FILE

In a bid to prepare future generations for the increasingly digitalised world, upper primary pupils will be taught coding from 2020 (Coding classes for all upper primary pupils from 2020, July 11).

As exciting as this sounds, I cannot quite welcome this move eagerly. For one thing, classes that impart technical knowledge (however simplified) could seem irrelevant to 10-to 12-year-olds.

The same materials, if introduced at a later stage, say secondary school, could be more optimally utilised and yield better results.

Before learning about the world, upper primary pupils should first learn about themselves.

The time allocated for coding classes could be more meaningfully spent on discussions about personal values, classes that centre around the pupils as individuals.

Every student should have the space and support to forge a strong sense of self to prepare them for the uncertain future, and this can only be achieved through guided reflection in a place they already feel comfortable in (that is, school).

The problem with our education system is that it focuses on the how instead of why. We should stop obsessing over the technical aspects of knowledge for a second, and channel our energy into fostering greater self-awareness in the young.

Calista Loh, 19

Prospective university student

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2019, with the headline 'Teach pupils about self before coding'. Print Edition | Subscribe