Can we please STOP telling people coding is easy!

There’s a growing trend as governments and well-meaning organisations clue in to the massive skills gap that has been allowed to grow in IT education across the UK and around the world. The trend is the proposition that learning to code is “simple” and “easy”. In some instances this fashion has led to extremes with some providers offering you the opportunity to “learn to code in a day” or a week, month or year.

I’ll be frank, this is starting to piss me off.

Not because learning to code isn’t simple, it absolutely is in the initial stages. Not because you can’t get a good foundation in the very basics in a day or a week. No my objection to this trend is one of devaluation.

I, and many like me, have spent years, whole careers even, working on and honing our skills across a range of IT disciplines to achieve a professionally acceptable level of  competence and for a government or company to stand up and state that what has taken me nigh on my entire adult life to achieve can be managed by anyone with a week to spare? That bugs the hell out of me.

It’s not like this is being declared for any other subject. No one is proposing you can learn higher mathematics in a day, or offering you a week-long course that will result in student speaking fluent Spanish. And a lot of these subjects are considerably more static in terms of content than the world of computing. Heck, I’ve learned and relearned an entire syllabus of content time and time over as new technologies have been introduced and older methods have fallen by the wayside.

I think its time for a little honesty. Yes anyone can learn to code. Yes it’s an important skill to have and yes we should be encouraging as many people to develop this skill as possible but can we please stop telling people it’s easy, because we’re doing a disservice to both those who are starting on the journey and those who are already a long way down an infinitely long road.


* btw Coding and Code is used in this post for convenience. I agree with Clive Beal that the word has been appropriated by the media and politico and will do my best to find a suitable alternative in the future.