Eighteen months ago, our family lived in Istanbul, Turkey. My husband and I were both on the teaching faculty of a prominent, private university. I had a tenured position and loved my research and graduate students deeply. It was a near perfect life, on the sea in a vibrant Mediterranean metropolis. We lived comfortably for six years and had no intention of ever leaving. Things changed.

Suffice it to say that our world, as we loved it, collapsed. As parents and educators, we moved swiftly, accepting the costs of separation, uncertainty and yet another new country for our children. There was one saving grace in all of this upheaval, our analytical skills. You see, when a forty year old woman returns to the US after twenty years abroad, the prominent question is why? Who are you? And again, why? I had a life that was non-transferrable. Suddenly, I didn’t fit. My career path did not fit industry norms in the US. Nor could I jump into an academic position mid-year. It was terrifying and humbling to have life’s reset button pushed with three young children, while their father was stuck on the other side of the world. 

I tried hard to force myself into the mold. I tried to convince potential employers that my teaching and research were relevant and valuable in a business context. Ultimately, it always came down to one critical question: What can you do? I had years of formal training in modeling, simulation, data collection and analysis. I can program, mine, display complex data and teach. That is my skill set. My additional life experience, talents and personality were hardly important. The fancy degrees may have opened doors, but at the end of the day, the skills pay the bills. 

CodeCraze is here because our children must master marketable life skills. They should have passions and dreams. Let them travel to foreign countries, learn exotic languages, and live in the beauty and diversity of the world, but if the rug is pulled out from beneath them, how will they survive? Coding is power. Coding is independence. It is creation, expression and often practical solution. Coding is a skill that is adaptable and applicable to any challenge. Being able to make a computer complete tasks that simplify our lives will never go out of style. In my view, programing is one of the most precious skills that a child can acquire. 

Success is rooted in the ability to problem solve. The bigger the problem, the more a solution will be valued and rewarded. As our world evolves toward ever more efficient data transmission, machine driven production and computer powered assistance, the problems (as diverse as they may appear) are overwhelmingly software related. The solutions need to be coded. 

Could you wait and just let the schools deal with tech education? Of course. Most will. Kids will get a smattering of tech related topics in public school. If they like it, they can certainly feed their interest with online resources or books. However, younger children acquire coding syntax faster. Their minds are open to language learning at a level of abstraction that can only be termed absorption. Their memories are sharp, and their minds are curious. While, programing can be learned at any age, think about foreign language acquisition- children pick up language and can speak without the slightest grammatical error or accent within weeks. Adults need years of practice, hours of focus and never truly master a foreign language with the fluency of their mother tongue. Why do we delay language instruction until middle school? Unfortunately, the need for foreign languages is limited, meaning that this specialized skill is perhaps not as universally marketable or valued as other skills. 

Yet, we start with mathematics in pre-school. We want our children to have flexible minds and be keen problem solvers. Math is viewed as universally important in an applied context. Math teaches kids to think. It helps them to be independent. It has inherent value because we can apply it in so many areas. A parent would never opt to delay basic maths until high school. We accept that basic concepts are quickly and naturally understood by young children, and that a progression into more complex topics may be challenging, but rewarding and essential later in life. 

So, why don’t we have computer coding in elementary school? Schools throughout Asia and parts of Europe do. In fact, we do in most private schools and some public institutions along the coasts. Unfortunately, the public educational system cannot adapt to societal change as quickly as technology has encroached upon us. Teaching computer programing and robotics is very resource intensive. The result is, we are lagging. The skills that need to be taught must first be acquired by our teachers, and our children are the gap generation. They are the ones, who given the skill, can lead their peers and influence continued technological development. Yet, they are also the ones who will be overlooked and lag behind, if left solely to the public school system.

CodeCraze offers fun daily entertainment workshops and summer camps designed to pique children’s interest in computer programing and robotics; however, our mission is much greater. We empower. We seek to transfer knowledge and build skill in this blossoming generation. We are here to expand horizons. Coding expertise in a documented portfolio is the difference between following the tech trend and leading it. CodeCraze is here to make leaders.

Brooke Luetgert

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