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Toronto teacher prepares students for the future with lessons in coding

It’s being called the most important job skill of the future: Coding.

By 2021 it’s predicted that Canada will need to fill 200,000 digital jobs and as of today, experts say we’re nowhere near filling those positions over the next four years.

Denis Salsman, a teacher at Charles Gordon Senior Public School, is hoping to have her students prepared for those jobs by bringing coding into her classroom.

“Our students today will have jobs we don’t even know exist right now,” she said “Coding is paramount.”

Salsman comes from a music background with no formal computer training, though a TDSB wide competition dubbed the Hack-A-Thon propelled her and her students to learn how to code and the results have been eye-opening.

She says she has seen the benefits of coding across the education spectrum. “In the arts curriculum, what you can do with coding through music and visual arts is stunning. It’s not just math.”

For young minds like Grade 11 student Haley Crespo, design based coding is also helping her break down gender barriers in what has long been a male dominated tech industry.

“I feel like girls and woman have so much to offer and why would we not have this opportunity.”

Grade 7 student, Rishab Chakraborty wants to use coding to become the next Elon Musk, “I think coding is a very powerful tool and I think we can use it to solve many global problems.”

High School Computer Science teacher, Mark Ives believes the provinces schools are doing well when it comes to teaching tech trades like coding but admits more could be done, and has to be done, “It’s definitely a need it’s something we have to do or we’ll be falling behind.”

Courses like Computer Sciences are still an elective in Ontario High Schools, something this provinces Minister of Education, Mitzie Hunter says she’s reviewing.

“We are doing a curriculum refresh. We’re looking at how we can bring in more computational thinking like coding into the classrooms in Ontario.”

It’s also international science education week and people of all ages are being encouraged to take part in an hour of code. Using iPads and free apps like Swift Playground, students from kindergarten through to college and beyond can now learn how to code.