Parents advised to enroll kids in coding

Armin with Dr. Lee at Jeju Forum

FNF Global Innovation Hub Director Armin Reinartz has a three-year old kid whose interest has yet to be piqued by smart phones. Should Armin be worried when other children his kid’s age are already glued on gadgets?

“At three, he still has some time. But there is a certain digital language that will be beneficial to young people in the very near future. Coding should be a second language that they need to learn,” advises Dr. Yong Suk Lee, Deputy Director of Korea Program at Stanford University.

Researching on digital technology and entrepreneurship with focus on how societies react to new technologies, Dr. Lee points out that coding is not different from having math or science skills. It is a tool to find solutions to problems. “Think of coding as a language that enriches the thought process. The real innovators and entrepreneurs have this at the basis. When they have an idea, they can easily implement and experiment that with their skills,” he says.

Dr. Lee has two daughters, 14 and 8 years old. The older one is in middle school in Silicon Valley. He shares that editing tools like Adobe is already part of the school curriculum. He mentions that kids also have the option to learn programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and Python, and that there is an abundance of coding summer programs around the area.

“Those who have been successful in the past decades or so started coding very early. If you think of it that way, it makes sense to start already. At least expose the children to it,” he adds.

Should Armin send his son to a school in Silicon Valley?

While Silicon Valley is developing an artificial intelligence (AI) school that can devise new and customized curriculums, at present, Dr. Lee sees education innovation as still being marginal. “There’s a pre-existing curriculum and adding one involves a lot of bureaucracy,” he comments. “This issue of transforming education systems will come up not just in Silicon Valley. In the end, there might be other places that may be more risk-taking in their approach,” he continues.

Armin’s three-year old kid has a long a way to go, but Armin is already keen to develop his child’s entrepreneurial mindset using digital technologies.

Dr. Lee and Armin participated in the Jeju Forum 2018 in Korea where the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and the Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia hosted a session on Industry 4.0. Digital skills are seen as indispensable to cope with demands of the fourth industrial revolution.

Read the transcript of the full interview below.