Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Beyond Coding

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Beyond Coding

How Children Learn Human Values through Programming

MIT Press,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Coding is the literacy of the future, stresses Marina Umaschi Bers, and educators must connect it to human values and ethics.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable
  • Inspiring


Children should learn programming because it supports new ways of thinking and problem-solving – not simply because they want to work in computer science, writes Marina Umaschi Bers. Many educators fail to create classroom cultures of curiosity and learning, as they lecture children but remain risk-averse regarding teaching children moral and social values. Umaschi Bers urges educators to use play as a powerful teaching tool, while connecting ethics and values to programming. She offers crucial moral and developmental virtues educators must impart, refutes those who call for an emphasis on STEM, and reminds instructors that programming helps children understand the complexity and interconnectedness of today’s world. Coding is the new literacy, she stresses, and everyone needs to learn it.


Children learn best through explorative play.

Young children possess a natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. Their brains develop rapidly in early childhood, a time when educators must help them establish a foundation for lifelong learning. Yet they will not learn if teachers only lecture them. Children learn best when they play. 

Through play, humans develop language, socioemotional and physical capabilities, and can acquire a sense of spirituality and morality. Educators should embrace a “coding playground” approach that provides children with opportunities to learn to code through creative exploration. While many may find the metaphor of the playpen more appealing than the playground – playpens are safe enclosed spaces, after all – the playground provides a more accurate metaphor as children on a playground enjoy the freedom to learn by taking risks and experimenting.

Educators can embrace a “positive technological development” (PTD) framework, which centers around nurturing psychosocial behaviors within a technological context using the “6 Cs”:

  1. Creativity – Guide children in...

About the Author

Tufts University professor of both child study and human development and computer science Marina Umaschi Bers is head of the interdisciplinary research group, Developmental Technologies (DevTech).

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Learners who read this summary also read