Learning to code ideology
The first aspect of the hidden computing curriculum to note is that ‘coding’ carries into the classroom a specific set of assumptions about ways of knowing and doing things. Writing code is not just a technical procedure but is related to systems of thought about the way the world works, and about how it might be modelled in order to further shape people’s interactions with it. As Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge have argued in Code/Space, coding is a ‘disciplinary regime’ with established ‘ways of knowing and doing regarding coding practices.’ Writing code projects the ‘rules’ of computer science and its system of computational thinking into the world. It captures assumptions about how the world works and translates them into formalized models that can be computed through algorithmic procedures.
Learning to repoliticize code
In conclusion it can be argued that learning to code is a kind of introduction into new computational ways of interacting with the world, as channelled through the ‘rules’ of computer science and the disciplinary systems of thought associated with programmers. Such practices are intended, at least in part, to prepare them for a world in which computational thinking and coding practices are seen as potential solutions to all of today’s economic, commercial and political problems.
While it’s probably best to reserve a little judgment here, it is important to acknowledge that learning to code, digital making and the computing curriculum are attached to these other political activities and ways of thinking, rather than simply to see practices of coding and computational thinking as decontextualized and depoliticized sets of technical skills. As the computing curriculum hits classrooms, we need to learn to repoliticize code.