Should Kids Be Taught How to Code in Elementary School: A Letter to Rudy Crew (by Sam Schaefer)

Dr. Crew
Chief Education Officer
Oregon Department of Education
255 Capitol Street NE

Salem, OR 97310-0203

Dear Chief Education Officer:

Your never shaken conquest to improve Oregon public schools has been awe inspiring.  Today, I’m writing to you on the subject of improvement.  As we push forward Oregon academics, we must also be conscious of tomorrow’s world.  In order to ensure our children’s future in a technology engorged world, we must give them the tools to succeed.  I believe by teaching kids in Oregon public schools how to code, as early as the first grade will ensure our children’s success in our technology driven world.

Ave Lauringson a project manager at ProgeTiiger says it best when she states, ““In Estonia, kids are walking around with Pampers and iPads, so we see that there has to be some logical movement with tech.”  ProgeTiiger launched early this year in Estonia during September and is currently teaching kids in twenty different schools how to code.  Lauringson ambitiously plans to teach kids how to code in all 550 public schools in Estonia.  The UK is looking to follow Estonia’s example, asking the question, “should elementary school children be taught how to code?”  In a technology driven world, the answer is clearly yes.

When a country is integrating computer science curriculum into course requirements throughout the entire country, starting in the 1st grade, after school programs in Oregon will not suffice.  If we’re to stay above the curve, we must start teaching our children how to code in public schools.  Starting with logical thinking in early grades will increase our children’s problem solving skills.  This will result in a better understanding of mathematics and abstract thinking.  Our society’s future relies on technology, and the exploration of science.  Let Oregon set the bar in computer science education, and let us do it by teaching children in public schools how to code.


Samuel Schaefer

“Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.”


Research Question: Should kids be taught how to code in elementary school?

  1. Geere, Duncan.  “Afterschool ‘Code Clubs’ planned to teach kids programming”.  Wired.  April 17th 2012.  Web.  November 17th 2012.
  2. Mindshift.  “Should kids learn to code in grade school?” KQED.  September 26th 2012.  Web.  November 18th 2012.
  3. Murray, Matthew.  “Should kids learn to code?”  ExtremeTech.  January 27th 2012. Web.  November 18th 2012.
  4. Orson, Palmy. “Why Estonia Has Started Teaching Its First-Graders To Code.” Forbes.  September 9th 2012.  Web.  November 26th 2012.
  5. Pellissier, Hank.  “Is the next second language Javascript?” Great schools. Web.  Novemeber 18th 2012.


Geere Article –

Summary: This article speaks about “Code club.”  Code club is a program designed to teach elementary school students throughout the UK how to code.  They’re going head on offering after school programs with the goal of becoming established at all schools by 2014.  They’re using scratch, an MIT designed program that was created to teach basic coding.

    Commentary: Finding this article was extremely helpful for my research.  It shows that other parts of the world are moving forward rather aggressively on the subject of teaching kids how to code.  A program like this is almost exactly what I’m looking for in the United States.

Mindshit Article –

Summary: This article states how important it is for kids to learn how to code in an ever increasing technology world.  They give examples of “Code now”, a non-profit organization operating within the United States, that teaches kids to code through summer courses.  As you read on you discover that two schools in Silicon Valley are teaching their elementary school students how to code.

  Commentary: I can take a lot from this article.  It shows me that two different public schools in California are teaching kids how to code.  You would expect Silicon Valley to be on the forefront of a subject like this, and it looks like they are.

Murray Article –

Summary: This is an interesting article, on the subject of my research question.  Murray debates with himself if coding should be taught in public schools.  He believes if it were to be mandatory, it should be taught like a wood shop class, basic principles and simple ideas.  He is also worried that it might push away potential elementary school teachers from becoming teachers.  Early development teachers being forced to learn how to code and teach it during class might lack the passion for it.

Commentary: This was viable information for me.  If coding was to be taught across the United States, should it be an after school program or should be mandatory taught?  The forcefulness might push people away.

Orson Article –

Summary: Orson talks about ProgeTiiger, a program aimed at teaching 1st graders how to code nationwide in Estonia.  Ave Lauringson is the creator of this project, and very enlightening on the subject manner.  She talks about how kids are “walking around in pampers with iPods”, teaching them about the technology they’re engorged with is only logical.  She wants to teach them not how to code in languages but the basics behind programming.

Commentary: This article is amazing, because Ave Lauringson’s approach is brilliant.  Instead of following programs like Scratch, which allow kids to code within a program, she is teaching fundamentals.  If the child is turned onto programming, than they start learning code languages.  However, at first they’re building logical thinking of functions.  This is exactly what I wish to see in public schools in Portland.

Pellissier Article –

        Summary: Pellissier’s article is compelling.  He talks about computer science, how the sector is booming, and the need learn programming, or be programmed.  Fearing that America will fall behind other countries who are already taking the intuitive and teaching kids how to code at an early age.

Commentary: This article benefits me because it proves points that I’m trying to make.  I want people to understand that technology is increasing, making the need to understand it important.  Healthcare boomed because people started living longer.  Well computer science is now booming because technology is directly influencing people’s life.  As we rely on it more and more, the job demand will go up and up.



  1. Michelle

    Wow Sam!! This is great!! Your resources are amazing! Your letter was thoughtful and full of questions and concerns. I had no idea what ‘coding’ was, but now I do. I find it interesting that other countries are moving forward with education as well. It’s quite inspiring. Are you a computer science major? It makes sense. 🙂
    I can definetly see the take off of programming in our schools in the very near future. Technology has become such a huge ‘thing’ in our society that it is basically a norm now. I believe the personal technology systems really took off in the 1980’s when video games started becoming more and more popular. And now everybody plays games or has some sort of technology equipment. Well done! I enjoyed reading this! Thanks! Sorry I don’t have any negative feedback for you. I just really enjoyed your essay.


  2. I couldn’t agree with you more Sam. I strongly stand behind including more computer science into our schools. At some levels it seems like learning to how to code will likely be more beneficial than some topics currently being taught. I think you do a great job expressing yourself without pushing too hard. You’ve found a nice grove here which makes it easy to agree with you. I’m curious to know more about the topic now, which isn’t a bad thing. How do American schools compare to other countries when it comes to technology and other subjects that will directly affect our youth as they become adults?

    As I said above, I found your work easy to understand and comfortable to read. I only got hung up one part through your entire letter. This sentence, “when a country is integrating computer science curriculum into course requirements throughout the entire country, starting in the 1st grade, after school programs in Oregon will not suffice”, broke the rhythm for me. Other than this once sentence I think you’re onto something here. Your resources are good and have further information that I found useful and your work makes me what to educate myself further. I hope this equates to ‘goal accomplished’.

  3. Sam

    Thanks for the feedback everyone!

    Below is a fun link to watch for people who don’t use too much technology in their life.

    their life. I have

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