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Say NO to coding and robotics: Introduction

There is currently (2019) a tendency to think that exposing children to information technology at an early stage (primary school or even earlier) will increase the quality of their education and their ability to become citizens in a world much influenced by digital media. In the State of the Nation Address, the President mentioned the aim to equip all school children with tablets.  Furthermore, the Department of Basic Education is planning to introduce a compulsory addition to the curriculum, in which children are trained for the basics of computer programming (coding) and robotics.

At first sight, it might seem logical to introduce gadgets and technological thinking earlier and earlier in schools, in a time when adult humans are becoming more and more connected to technology, but a closer look at how children develop shows that it is much more important for them to have a childhood in which they can learn to think and act freely and creatively, without being moulded into digital thought processes from an early age. The view that ‘earlier is better’ is therefore unfortunate. As this view might be driving the Department of Basic Education to unwise decisions, it is essential that we consider various aspects of the question, and to make a clear statement against the proposed intensification of ICT driven learning in primary schools.