I Married a Geek – Will My Son Be One Too?

Definiton of geek by the OED nad by my husband

Despite the fact that we met at a rock climbing wall, my husband isn’t really in to sport. The only running he did at school was in order to position himself as far away as possible from the ball during games lessons. He doesn’t support a football team and can think of nothing worse than watching cricket for days on end. He has a fear of water and would rather bath in baked beans than go for a swim – and that’s saying something as he hates baked beans! Despite the fact that he has travelled more than half way around the globe, he’s never been on a “lad’s weekend” and would much rather a few quiet pints with good friends in a real pub on a week night than brave busy bars and clubs on a Friday evening. My husband is a self-confessed and proud geek, and the thing that really gets him going is the current adoption of the word “geek” by the cool crew – the kind of people who, ironically, would have bullied my husband whilst he was at school for his love of computers and avoidance of the football pitch and school disco. Being a geek isn’t about big glasses and studious study, it’s a lifestyle in itself.

Perhaps once of the things that drew me to Ian in the first place is the fact that I grew up with another geek. Both my brother and my husband are programmers who are entirely self-taught by hours in front of computers in their youth, learning exactly what made them go and how to control them to their will. Both my brother and my husband have turned what began as a passionate hobby in to successful careers. And for my husband, at least, it remains a passionate hobby too. He spends forty-five minutes each way on the train each day, coding on his laptop, working on his own projects. He spends eight hours in the office, working on coding telecommunications solutions for his company. Remaining free time these days may be limited due to all the usual demands of a young family, but in the hours I might spend on creative writing or craft projects, he will most likely be found tinkering with Arduino projects or developing his own operating system.

My husband is in no way one dimensional – he has other interests besides and he’s a very hand’s on, fantastic father, but if you took coding out of his life you’d take away both his job and his biggest hobby. (You’d also totally change the man I fell in love with and adore more each day!)

Does that mean he thinks everyone should learn to code?

I asked him this question in response to the post Why You Should Encourage Your Child To Learn Coding which I stumbled upon via Twitter.

The answer, was a resounding no, and I’m very inclined to agree.

Coding, like almost anything else, is a skill. Whilst it can be taught, not everyone truly has the capacity to master it in much the same way that English can be taught, but not everyone can master the art of stringing words together in a pleasing way. To my mind, the suggestion that the progression of technology means jobs will always be available in the software industry, and therefore that you should encourage your child to pursue this path to safeguard their future career prospects is akin to saying that doctors will always be needed for our aging population, so our kids should knuckle down and start swotting up on their human anatomy.

Call me old fashioned and cliched, but I strongly believe that children should be encouraged to pursue what interests them, not necessarily what we think should interest them. Obviously they need to be given plenty of opportunity to discover different pastimes in order to find their passions, but I don’t think we should push them in any particular direction. My brother developed a love of coding from playing with a BBCB computer, and Ian’s father bought him an Amiga back in the 1980s. Their interests and skills blossomed from there despite no further encouragement or coercion, and the availability of plenty of other activities to pursue.

I totally agree that our children need to be computer literate and able to type, but these are skills which tend to develop organically given the ubiquity of technology in our lives. And I also agree that in these days of touch screens and smart GUIs, developing coding skills organically is perhaps less likely that it once was, so it may be necessary to specifically create opportunities for children to discover the world of coding – a big aim of the Raspberry Pi project. Equally, though, I think if you “have it” as far as coding is concerned, you’ll find a way!

I believe coding for life is, much like medicine, a vocation. It’s something that will find someone and draw them in, and not the other way around.

Thomas’s current self taught passion – about which he is a knowledgeable and obsessive enthusiast – is Thomas the Tank Engine. He’s busy developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the characters and it’s something he chose to do entirely by himself, which I absolutely love. Obviously he will grow up with an awareness of software development and coding, if only because he’ll be watching his dad do it. And if he expresses an interest in learning how to do it himself, then he’ll get a Raspberry Pi of his own. But he currently loves to cram his entire fist in to unsuspecting people’s mouths to check out their teeth, and I’m not supposing yet that it means he wants to follow in his Mummy’s footsteps and become a dentist.

Only time will tell.


4 Replies to “I Married a Geek – Will My Son Be One Too?”

  1. ha ha great post. I married a geek too so will also be interested to see if my son will be one too. At the moment i would say no – he is very much a rough and tumble boy who wants to be a fireman! 🙂

    1. It will be interesting to see how they turn out. My mother-in-law says my husband was much more extroverted as a baby and toddler than he was once he got a bit older, so probably goes to show that you really can’t tell!

    1. I have small hands, but sometimes could do with them being smaller still – so Thomas would probably be ideal at this stage! He loves brushing his teeth too!

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