Image created by Janel Brandon

The world can be a scary place. In the US, my home country, it seems like I hear about another school shooting every other week. There are people talking about arming teachers with guns to help solve the problem. Fight guns with more guns. Stop violence with the threat of more violence. But, I know we’re smarter than that. Human beings are wiser, more creative, more compassionate, more loving than this oversimplified version of ourselves behaving like scared animals — we can find another way.

And I have an idea … let’s arm the teachers with code, not guns.

“As a developer you have the ability to create anything that comes to mind with only the help of a computer.” @catalinaastengo

You may not believe it, but writing code is a creative endeavour. It’s true. It’s one of the most creative things I’ve ever done, and I consider myself a pretty creative person. I love to write, to sew, to make jewellery, to paint, to play piano, and still, I feel that creative fire most when I code.

And writing code is powerful. I know that I can make anything I want to make. I can show someone the beauty and wonder of the world I see with the applications that I write. I can solve problems.

Think about it — computer programming is being used in every field and area of life — to enhance, to accelerate learning and growth, to overcome obstacles, to make everything more accessible. Most things that we do today are made easier by code that someone wrote. We even have a popular catch-phrase for it — ‘There’s an app for that.’

And coding is an excellent tool for learning. When we code, we practice problem-solving and critical thinking. We learn patience and humility (ask any coder how important these are to their success and happiness). We learn compassion for our own mistakes and the mistakes of our peers. But best of all — we learn that anything is possible. We learn that the power to create is in our hands, and the sky’s the limit.

Imagine what could change in the world if we gave this to our children in school from a young age? Just imagine it. I bet we wouldn’t have to have this discussion about guns and violence that we are having now. We would arm our children with all of these incredible tools instead so they can build the world we all want to live in.

So how do we do it? It isn’t rocket science. Let’s teach our teachers how to code, and empower and enable them to bring it to their classrooms. I think this can help us change our almost dead educational system, driven by meaningless tests written through bureaucratic processes and based on outdated information. We can change this system where teachers are undervalued and their role as inspirational influences in our children’s lives is almost completely ignored and even destroyed. Every teacher I know wants the support and ability to make a real difference for every child they teach and for the world, and most of them feel completely disheartened because they aren’t given the tools, the time, the power, or the trust to do it.

Now — I’m not naive. I know that changing institutions as big as our educational systems is not easy. I also think that changing any system this big needs to happen from the bottom — a grassroots movement. Teachers and school administrators are the people on the ground doing the work, and I do believe that they have the power to make a change.

Imagine this — a passionate teacher learns to code and the power of coding. She shares that passion and learning with her class by changing some lessons to incorporate coding. Those students become enlivened by what they learn and start creating amazing things. The class gets recognised. The school gets recognised. Parents start to demand that their children get to learn in the same way. I can see it. We. Can. Do. This.

Let’s give the power of coding to the teachers, so they can give it to our children. I think if we do this simple thing, we can watch the results unfold, and be delighted and inspired by what we create.

I am a coder and teacher with 20+ years experience in software development. Success is measured by happiness so it's available to all of us every day.

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