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Hour of Code: Cracking the Code for 21st Century Skills

When coders, or programmers, work through a problem over and over again until they get it right, they’re putting invaluable 4C’s in action: critical thinking, making decisions, and problem-solving as they go.

Which is part of the reason we love Hour of Code – a week’s long activity wherein kids learn the basics of coding. Hour of Code has some basic principles that are important for all kids to learn – and no surprise here, they’re couched in the 4C’s. Critical thinking is just one C in those ever-powerful 4C’s: communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. For a lot of people, coding encompasses more than just critical thinking – it’s also a form of creative self-expression, a means of communicating, a way of working with others. In other words, all those 4C’s at once.

Have you made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lately? Pretty easy, wasn’t it? You picked up the jar, laid out the bread, got out a knife and voila! Peanut butter in your tummy.

But have you ever had to give step-by-step directions on how to do it? Breaking down each task by which hand is doing what. Which hand holds the knife. How much jelly to put on the knife. How to spread it.

That’s the kind of thing computer programmers and coders do every day – break down a task into specific, logical parts. As SMART software developer Ping-Kwan Lai explains in the video below, computers are dumb until we tell them what to do. That’s coding, or programming, for you.

Being able to code is an invaluable skill. Not just because of our increasingly technological world of computers, apps, and devices – although that’s part of it. But because coding, like Steve Jobs said, teaches us how to think. Particularly, it teaches us to think critically.

Critical thinking is what we do when we base our arguments not on feelings but on evidence. Of approaching a question or a problem and breaking it down into parts, looking for bias or manipulation in the evidence. The ability to evaluate and identify that evidence rationally and open-mindedly is a big part of decision-making – something we do every day and something that students will do throughout their lives.

Even though Hour of Code is an annual event, we think coding shouldn’t be just a one-time thing. As a technology company, we have hundreds of employees who code and use their creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration to build our products. In other words, when students learn to code now, they’ll have an excellent start on their future.

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Kristel Gibson
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About Kristel Gibson

Kristel Gibson is the social media content manager. She’s been studying and responding to the social trends of the “intertubes” for the last eight years. She lives in Seattle with her family.

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