At the age of 14, I landed my first summer job teaching coding to kids.
I hopped on the bus for the half-hour ride to my school, where I taught elementary school children how to write very simple programs using Logo, a computer language developed to teach kids basic programming concepts. (Logo is the predecessor to Scratch, a language used widely today by schools to introduce students to coding.)
While I took several computer science courses in high school and one more in college, my attention quickly shifted to Asian languages, history and politics, and eventually to business. I didn't major in computer science and I never became a coder.
I'm a communications and marketing guy. I do publishing, PR, and digital marketing. But while I may not be a coder, the grounding in coding that I gained as a kid has given me a level of understanding of technology and comfort using it that I may not otherwise have.
Why kids should learn to code
I believe kids should learn to code, they should start at an early age, and they should develop their skills as far as they can while they are at school. A number of reasons have been put forth for why kids should learn to code.
1. Coding helps kids develop logical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Coding teaches how to break complex problems into smaller chunks and solve them, and then integrate them back into a unified solution: the application. It goes without saying that this is a highly transferable skill. Every job in every industry needs better problem-solvers.
In an interview, Jobs had this to say about learning how to code:
"I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, should learn a computer language, because it teaches you how to think. I view computer science as a liberal art. It should be something that everyone takes."
2. Coding teaches kids how to work well in teams.
While there will always be a need for solo coders, complex coding projects require working in teams, sometimes very large ones. Transferable skill? Check.
3. Learning to code opens the door to job opportunities.
Hadi Partovi, co-founder of Code.org, estimates that 1.4 million programming jobs will be needed over the next decade while current projections are for only 400,000 graduates in the field. A study by Payscale.com ranks computer science as the "third most valuable college major", with median starting pay of $53,000.
4. Learning to code gives kids more confidence with technology.
The fact is, most students won't go on to become professional coders. But whatever occupation they pursue, learning the basics of coding can give them a sense of confidence with technology.
The late MIT Professor Seymour Papert, known as the "father of educational computing" and one of the developers of Logo, the computer language I taught to a bunch of young kids many summers ago, once said, "children should be programming the computer rather than being programmed by it."
It's a statement that still rings true today.
How to get started
There's no shortage of online resources that can teach you how to code. For several years, Code.org has been promoting One Hour of Code, a one-hour introduction to computer science that intends to "demystify code." More than 428 million students worldwide have taken up the challenge so far.
There are also many great websites that provide coding instruction for free or for a fee.
At school, my friends and I were sometimes teased for spending so much time on our computers. Back then, the term "computer geek" was considered anything but a compliment.
But that was three decades ago. The world is a very different place now, and coding has assumed a whole new level of significance and impact.
Today, it's cool to be a computer geek.
A version of this article appeared on LinkedIn.