Apple CEO Tim Cook believes it’s important to learn how to code. He thinks it’s even more important than learning English as a second language.
When recently visiting France Cook said, “If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I’m not telling people not to learn English in some form — but I think you understand what I am saying is that this is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world.” He added, “I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world.” I think he’s right.
For starters, knowing how to code increases your job prospects and enhances your value in the labor market. More than a third of the highest paying jobs in the U.S. require some familiarity with computer programming, according to Glassdoor. This knowledge is a differentiator, and why not differentiate yourself in a value-enhancing way?
But there are other reasons. Perhaps even more important reasons.
“Creativity is the goal. Coding is just to allow that. Creativity is in the front seat; technology is in the backseat. It is sort of the blend with both of these that you can do such powerful things now,” said Cook.
We entered the age of digital technology during my lifetime, Vera. By the time you were born, we were well down the path. Your dad’s work has involved computers, coding, and the like since college. He taught himself how to code and build desktop computers when he was a kid. I’m glad he had more foresight than all the adults around him — adults like me, the technological dinosaurs.
I suppose it’s a given you’ll know how to code. Yet I was surprised at how many college students don’t know how to code today. Or don’t know much at all about computers and digital technology. Well into the 21st century, I don’t understand how this is possible. But it is.
There’s a larger lesson here, I suppose: Stay current. Avoid fossilization. Acquire and develop skills that the world needs and someone is willing to pay for.
Does that mean you have to code for a living? Of course not.
Does it mean you should avoid other vocational interests? Of course not.
But it does mean digital technology is permeating everything today. Everything. And those who don’t know how to code — who don’t know how to express themselves and do things with the world’s newest global language — will be at a distinct disadvantage.