The best argument for teaching computer science and coding in primary schools is the speed at which young children naturally take to digital technology, according to a Charles Sturt University (CSU) expert.
Course Director at the CSU School of Computing and Mathematics Mr Jason Howarth believes children are inherently interested in technology and the education system has an opportunity to nurture and encourage inquisitive minds.
"An interest in technology starts very young and is evident in how quickly children want to experiment, whether it's mum or dad's smart phone, the tablet at pre-school or simply the TV remote," Mr Howarth said.
"Children begin to learn about biology, chemistry and physics in primary school to better understand the world around them. Technology is now an inseparable element of the modern environment - the world is programmed - so it's equally important for them to understand how technology works, and more importantly, how it can be used to solve problems."
In his budget reply speech earlier this month, opposition leader Bill Shorten outlined a plan to turn Australia into the "science, start-up and technology capital" of the region. He would make it a national priority to have digital technology, computer science and coding taught in every school, train teachers in science and technology and write off 100,000 HECS debts for science, technology, maths and engineering students.
Mr Howarth believes the ever-changing technology industry needs people who can think independently, and who are creative and adaptable.
"The entrepreneurial spirit is something that schools and universities should be nurturing," Mr Howarth said.
"Mr Shorten's proposals would certainly increase students' exposure to technology but we need to make sure that it's not just the traditional scholarly high-achievers who are targeted. The education system should also be identifying students who are unafraid of risk, are persistent and who have excellent problem-solving skills. It is often these individuals who make the best innovators. The future of the technology industry belongs to the brave as much as to the academic elite."
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