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Advice for Young Coders - Interview With Síofra Kelleher

01/12/2015 10:25 GMT | Updated 30/11/2016 10:12 GMT

"You might not think that programmers are artists, but programming is an extremely creative profession. It's logic based creativity." John Romero

Coders or programmers are creative thinkers, and problem solvers who develop computer systems, and develop our world and how we relate to it. There is a high demand for coders, yet paradoxically there is a scarcity of them. Coding for fifteen year old coder Síofra Kelleher, is comparable to learning another language, and anyone with a desire to learn and good application can learn.

She developed a love for technology at the age of three, being inspired by her father, John Kelleher a programmer, and her brother who has a love for electronics. She joined an organisation called CoderDojo and her love of coding began.

What is coding?

Coding is the key to a lot of our modern world. It is lines of text and numbers that can create anything you want them to. There are different languages (just like we have French and English and Japanese!) that you can use to make different things. HTML for example, let's you build websites.

What advise would you give to teenagers interested in coding?

Just go for it! Oh, and don't give up after the first go! No one is perfect the first time they do something. Find a fun environment, like a coderdojo and learn there. Get your friends to join in too, make it fun. Coding is not as hard as it seems, as long as you approach it with an open mind.

Why should young people get involved with coding?

Young teens need to get involved with coding because it is the future. It is the now. It sparks curiosity and curiosity sparks learning.​ Code is building our smartphones, our televisions, and our favourite social media, it has weaved its way into our day-to-day life, and we would not get very far without it. My point is, teenagers need to get involved, because it is the new 'english', how are you meant to get your problems solved if you cannot communicate?

Should coding be taught as a school subject?

Yes, I'd love to see coding in schools, it really is the next big thing, and our future generations would benefit greatly. I'd love to see more hands-on technology in the classroom as well. Even using social networks such as twitter, as a class, can be great learning tools. In my last year of primary school, my teacher used twitter so we could communicate with other schools across the world. We each had our own blog as well. 'It taught me a lot that I wouldn't have learned if we didn't have computers.'

Coding can be taught by the person who is learning. Learning to code is making mistakes, and fixing those mistakes. Part of the learning is solving your own problems. Learning to code will also improve logic and will broaden the career choices of many. It will also be promoting code among girls.​ Code lessons are everywhere on the internet now, all that is needed is a computer, wifi and a willing student. Student's are bored with the choice of subjects nowadays, the school's syllabus needs to be made fun again.

What advances in technology will impact our lives the most in the future?

​​I see medicine improving greatly. Diseases cured, vaccinations made and given to people for free and painless surgery. Disabilities will be cut down by half. Diabetes cured will be an extra plus. I can envision wifi everywhere for free and the education syllabus will include coding as a subject.

What would you change about the technology world?

I would change the way we look upon the 'typical coder'. We need to stop thinking of coders as old men in dark rooms with the computer lighting up their face as they type a matrix-style stream of code.​ Code is logic, it is a language. However it is also creative and you can build anything with technology. Code is for everyone. Girls and boys, women and men, even grandparents! Did you know that the main reason for a girl not being interested in STEM fields is because she was told she couldn't do it because she was a girl? When we say that, and enforce a stereotype on a child so young we are closing off a huge part of their future to them.