Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
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From Kumon to Abacus to Byju’s to Fiitjee to Trinity and now WhiteHat Jr. for coding — every few years pushy Indian parents find out about a new course or class or technique that their children absolutely have to learn to cope with the ‘rat race of life’. They cram their children’s day with non-stop activities that would put even tiger-moms and soccer-moms to shame. After all, if your child is not a type-A all-rounder, it is safe to conclude she is a failure.

She must sing in the morning, study in the afternoon, go to sports coaching or dance class in the evening, and code at night. No matter which one she cares about.

Ten years ago, it was the Aakash coaching institute that was the Mecca of parents’ dreams of their children making it to the IITs. Not that the dreams were ever realised, often parents just walked away with their wallets significantly lighter. Today, it is coding for six-year-olds, because dreaming about anything less than MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is a sacrilege and you, of course, have to start young.

WhiteHat Jr., an educational technology startup, is dedicated to teaching children coding. While teaching coding itself is not an issue, the fact that the company — and ambitious parents — thinks that children as young as six-years need to learn it (or be forced to by their parents), is a massive problem.


Also read: Students can now study engineering and economics together as UGC approves dual degrees


Indian parents and Silicon dreams

Let’s be clear, coding is not a life skill. It is not even skating or horse riding, which yuppie parents love. And no six-year-old will voluntarily want to learn something that she or he has no interest in — no matter how hard you try to code it into their system.

The marketing then is clearly directed at Indian parents and a fine target they are. Forever on the quest to make their children overachievers in every field, or to just impose the rather heavy emotional baggage of unfulfilled dreams on them, Indian parents are generally a class apart. Whether in India or abroad. You should hear all the stereotypes about those Indian ‘spelling bee’ parents in the US.

So when the new success buzzword ‘coding’ comes to light and in an accessible, online format, not many will think twice before signing up. This has happened before with coaching institutes, tuitions, abacus classes, personality development classes and so on. You are just not a good parent if you allow your child to chill after they’re done with their school homework.

Markers of success evolved from operating the phone properly and speaking good English to the call centre boom, the MBA boom, and even the ‘become an NRI’ boom. And now it has led to the Silicon Valley start-up boom. The WhiteHat Jr. website says: “Your kid could win the next Silicon Valley Challenge!”

And in the middle of all these, there was someone constantly ensuring these indicators of success are imparted to their children — Indian urban parents.


Also read: Why online classes may not be such a good idea after all, especially for kids


Covid means online coding classes

Children are mostly not involved in the decision-making process in these situations despite being the biggest stakeholders. They are just lab rats.

One would assume that in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic, this obsession to ensure children are hyper-productive would get allayed a little. But with online classes, the productiveness has shifted to the virtual world.

It’s all about finding success in the technology world now, and what better than app development and coding. How does it matter if your child understands nothing of the complexity that is inherent in this field? The certificate and the rather fancy business card by WhiteHat Jr. is all that matters. (Since when do kids even need business cards to validate their interests?)

It also does not matter that a rudimentary online course for coding would hardly be able to teach children to suddenly become tech wizards and to start developing indigenous apps. Here are some hilarious takes on Twitter that argue this point, much better than I can.

A common defence of parents is that they are ‘preparing’ their children for the world. And equipping them with as many skills as possible to pick from. No, they just won’t wait for the child to exhibit her talent or interest first. So keep filling the tabula rasa to the hilt. However, they often forget that the pressures of this supposed ‘rat race’ are mostly manufactured by them and eventually in life, everyone figures out their way even if they do not know abacus, French, or in this case, coding.

But ultimately, it was and continues to be about that one thing, “Sharma ji ka beta has done it also”. To this I say — live and let live, aunty. You should know that Apple was born in a garage and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is a Harvard drop-out.

Views are personal.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. What an utter rubbish, who wrote this and you can yourself journalist. Pushy Indians Parents!! Coding creating stress!! Which euthopia you live in please let us know.
    Let me ask few questions here to Mr so called journalist or writer of this article and readers:

    1) Do you even know what is coding? Its a language and to get proficient in any language you need to start at early age. We had a time when English used to be taught from class 6th don’t believe please check history now we will laugh at the thought and one day in future people will laughing at people like you who think coding needs to be taught at later age.
    2) Kids are not interested in coding and parents pushing them: I know people whose kids are learning coding and it’s kids who pushed their parents because coding is fun. Its a structured logical language and feels like a game if taught in proper manner
    3) kids are under stress due to eat race and should enjoy childhood: I mean which world you guys live in that you can’t see the actual rat race of percentage in education system but an additional classes of adding skill set by playing games is going to put my kid under stress funny. I guess then my father paying for me to play chess or scrabble to improve my brain was also stress. Please share the research report who are those kids who felt stressed
    4) What is the right age of coding: please do your research again on this and you will find that it’s 6yrs because coding helps to stimulate brain, improve logical thinking and creativity
    5) Why only WhitehatJr ? Not that I really care but what I feel that it’s dirty marketing strategy to pull down a company which again I don’t care about but don’t pull down the youth of our country in that hole alongwith by saying coding is not necessary. It is the necessity of the digital generation and we are already too late opening up to it. We follow western countries in many things but this is where we should be looking up to them but we are not.

    To everyone who is reading this coding is the need of the hour, it’s not going to stress kids out but it’s interesting and fun and moreover it’s stimulate kids brain if done at early age. So once again don’t get mislead about a topic or subject like coding by these marketing competition propaganda of companies and their paid articles. Where you teach how you teach your children is your choice but chhode coding if Indian youth has to grow and if we as a country has to grow

  2. And what do we see in the end is a advertisment of white hat jr. They also bought a place in the article. It is not just one brand that is claiming to teach coding to kids there are others but are marketed less and bashed less in the articles and memes.

  3. Can we start looking things objectively rather than just labelling them or generalizing them!!

    Why is it that the word Coding only leads you to think about JAVA or C?? Rather it has a larger perspective mate.. The moves we made to save Mario from the monsters during our childhood can also be termed as coding… So it simply means solving a problem or a puzzle.. Ironically I see IT folks making satirical remarks..

    So the players like whitehat jr create such simple puzzles for the kids which could engage them positively and at large make them inquisitive and you have so much to complain!Why can’t we get to see this scale of criticism about those YouTube channels like Ryan toys which forces consumerism in the tender minds of children..

    I enrolled my 6 year old not to see him as a wizard, neither am I a pushy parent.. Rather I want him to spend atleast 30% of his screentime especially during these times of pandemic on some simple and inquisitive content..

    I do agree their means of marketing go overboard well for a reason.. Do you guys really bat an eye at a sober and content rich material? The answer lies in maniacal frenzy about IPL..

    So Guys.. In order to let your kids have simple childhood,

    Stop watching IPL matches as your kids might grow up thinking it’s an immense fun to watch people making big bucks..

    Stop ordering food from swiggy as your kids might grow up thinking cooking is no fun..

    Stop watching shows like Big Boss as your kids might grow up thinking it’s ok to be voyeuristic..

    Be sensible and aware about something before you go bonkers..

    • But sir why did you pay so much fees to them when the simple thing they did is to replicate an app called scratch so like the whole thing could be said as a drag and drop feature when I was a kid even I used to fiddle with such apps and slowly slowly I got to know that it was way more interesting and like then I started to go deep but why to pay 1 lac for a coding package when the whole syllabus including the basics till the advanced is available online for free say code.org

  4. I don’t know why people keep saying that children are getting pressurised! None of them have taken a survey or understood the perspective of the children. Everybody keeps assuming! All mere assumptions by random people!

  5. Well getting an introduction to coding at young age is far better than having any tuitions.I myself enrolled myself in Whitehat Jr and it has motivated me to create new ideas. Now a days abominable parents have their kids go to tuitions even from as young as 10 year, common children don’t need a tuition in the first place if they study properly in the class , but yes an occasional help from a mentor is always fruitful. So to conclude, the whole article is biased and somehow wants to attract readers who think they are the one true chosen sent by God to enlighten others . 🙂

  6. This is nothing but child abuse. Please let kids have fun childhoods and balanced humans Look at the mess the country is in because of the exam taking generations.

  7. My 6 year old coded v well. It is simple if then and while loops. Just Coz prev generation got exposed to coding only in college does not mean 6 yearnold cant do it.

  8. It is the psychological inertia in our thought which does not allow us to think progressively. The author has depicted the slave mentality of 300 years of British rule on us which had led to mindset I.e. Indian are 2nd to everyone. I am having mechanical eng background then also I am learning coding and teaching my 7 years old daughter. It has drastically improved her cognitive abilities and sometime, her codes are more precise and unique,the way I am doing. Also, we must know that we are homosepiens but use very less percentage of our brain capabilities. The exposure to children for coding provide opportunities to activate more neuron, means better cognitive abilities.
    It is very old and outdated socialistic thinking that everything free of cost. Investing in education is worthful and create value in oneself which differentiates one from other and survive in the competitive world. For making our country strong and world leader, we must benchmark the best and adopt the best things to fufill our dream.
    elearning is the reality and let’s embrace it rather than spreading confusion about it.

  9. What if there was nothing like “White Hat jr” ??

    11th class : 19 Year Old

    [Choose] –> Hindi/Computer Science
    Physical Education/ Computer Science

    A. [You have had a PC] –> You choose CS
    B. [You never had a PC] –> You don’t choose CS

    A. Spent 1 year(11th standard) to understand very
    basics of Coding like loops/structures/functions
    along with pressure of studying theory as you
    have to score good.

    [ Class 12th] : (In case u develop interest in
    coding)You have no margin for
    Exploration, putting efforts building
    apps/websites etc. Because
    Boards/JEE/ PCM a lot more now.

    [Btech CS/IT best case] : Age 20-21
    1st year spent on knowing
    what’s going on/ C
    language/ Tests/ Semester

    — Now explore what is app, what is website, who is mark juckerberg, what is sillicon valley, How lot of salary in IT sector — !! (Dipping fingers in the sea) And eventually end up working 9-5 for a service company.

    At least try their single coding class for a 5th grade child then only you will know !!

    They are not teaching AI or any hard coding stuff to them. They start from basics which children of that age can actually comprehend.

    First know the details guys. They refund 100% at any stage of course without asking a single question.

    Such refund policies are rarest. So basically they are giving opportunity to students who get fascinated by it.

    Just think What if there was nothing like that ?

    If you liked my opinion or you are a parent : You can consult me @8802882464,

    PS : I’m not an employee of White Hat jr. Just a coder who regrets for not knowing about coding at early age.

  10. Rightly said..

    These companies are vultures feeding on insecurities of gullible parents. Govt. should intervene here !!!

  11. I was furious after reading this article. How could they downregard education like this. ..how dare they…do you know what it feels like to not to have a better education or rather even ur parents doesn’t . They doesn’t even know about iit or coaching institute. Yes . That is the 95 % of Indians. They don’t even know ,how much power education and knowledge could bring them. I as an engineering student ,from not so “pushy” parents. I say those kids are the blessed one. Because they have parents who understand the value of time and knowledge. They don’t complain about oppurtunities ,or rather be jealous . They invested in the right form .they didn’t invest in their kid to watch cartoon their entire childhood and waste time and scold their kids for not being a better student when they grew up. They invested in education.
    And this article talked about the garage and drop out thing…..go to google . And read an about how these Harvard and Stanford dropouts have the knowledge ,what happened their childhood. Did they spend their time as kids. Not studying but watching movies. Or one who created google. What their parents did when they were young to them.
    When u doesn’t get any of these , and u see ur path narrow. Then u will know. How much u need to struggle to get better education. Whithat jnr is a great initiative. The one who knew about power education ,will use it. To the maximum. And others will complain all their life’s.
    Personal opinion

    I really wish my parents might have been “pushy”. And these kids are blessed to have them

    • Iam a boy studying in Whitehat , I joined by my will only , but if a student does not want to learn coding , we should not force them , I can undertake the pressure of that , it’s not the government job , it’s the parents job to understand weather their child wants or does not want this

  12. I’m a teacher myself at Whitehat jr. Nobody forces the child to enroll for the course infact I have seen children to develop interest eventually and make some great games and apps… Whitehat is just not about making apps it’s about enhancing their creativity and problem solving abilities as well.. I agree their Marketing skill were not apt. But the course actually offers a lott … And every child who enrolls learns more then just making an app..!!

  13. Most of us learn things for the “value” it can provide and not for the joy of learning itself. Everything is about being “productive”. Instead, let the kids explore what their interests lie in. Sure you’ve got to give them slight nudges but that’s all. The marking strategy is a well laid out trap.

  14. And then people complain that Indian education system is lagging behind. American children start coding at the age of 6. It’s included in their school curriculum. Stop criticizing the company. Nobody is forcing the parents to enroll.

    • Vocational courses do not constitute the educational system. Our education system is faulty due to early life pressure and merely marksheet based evaluation and so many other things. None of the current and past legends by profession or skill are known to have got exposure to such high tension pressure in their early life. Be it Abdul Kalam or anyone of that stature in the recent memory.. forget about Tagore etc..

      Company to be blamed for misleading people with their Wolf Gupta ads. If we don’t blame them.. then we have to stop blaming our politicians too. Are you game!!

      If so congratulations, you have achieved Nirvana!!!

    • Dude I learn’t coding at 6 years old for free and make more than 4000 dollars per month from my app. Stupid WhiteHat Jr.

  15. Dekho bhai log, I will suggest that sab log ‘baniya’ (a caste, not in negative sense) ki tarah socho, ki why these companies are doing this? This is just for profit. If they really care for our children, they could have done something for the poor ones. Hum apne bacho ki dekh bhaal, apni capacity k mutabik, kar sakte hain. We don’t need these startups. Ye computer science wale science ko to barha pate nahi, bas apna fayeda dikhta hai inko. Main khud ek software engineer hun. Lekin bacho se unka bachpan ni chheen sakta.

  16. Just today , I had my nine year old kid take White Hat Jr . free trial class . They sent me the menu card , 6000 rs for soup , 34000 for breakfast and 99000 for seven course meal (AI Robotics ). Online , everything is , your money , your communication and I suppose your life itself is on(the) line . Covid is playing strange tricks , unemployment is rocketing , poverty is rocketing , IT stocks and the general stock markets too in tandem .So how can one blame parents for acting strange , if you can’t be on the space rocket Elon Musk is designing , is it too much to hope for to have your kid code the rocket .

  17. Hi, thank you to cover on this. It can be more helpful if you can educate readers on how whitehatjr is exploiting these insecurities. Parents are not to be blamed solely. They do it because of societal pressure and situations that not everyone can understand. India is a developing country and these parents want only best for their child.

  18. You might want to look into the emerging research on “computational thinking” and “computational literacy”. It could be argued these are in fact core life skills that teach you to deconstruct a problem or task, and logically solve it.

  19. The movie Serious Men couldn’t have a better time to release. It capture precisely, the panic attack in children due to parental pressure in India Society.

  20. Overtasked 6-year old is going to become depressed 26-year old. At least they’ll be NRI and have access to better mental healthcare.

    • What an utter rubbish, who wrote this and you can yourself journalist. Pushy Indians Parents!! Coding creating stress!! Which euthopia you live in please let us know.
      Let me ask few questions here to Mr so called journalist or writer of this article and readers:

      1) Do you even know what is coding? Its a language and to get proficient in any language you need to start at early age. We had a time when English used to be taught from class 6th don’t believe please check history now we will laugh at the thought and one day in future people will laughing at people like you who think coding needs to be taught at later age.
      2) Kids are not interested in coding and parents pushing them: I know people whose kids are learning coding and it’s kids who pushed their parents because coding is fun. Its a structured logical language and feels like a game if taught in proper manner
      3) kids are under stress due to eat race and should enjoy childhood: I mean which world you guys live in that you can’t see the actual rat race of percentage in education system but an additional classes of adding skill set by playing games is going to put my kid under stress funny. I guess then my father paying for me to play chess or scrabble to improve my brain was also stress. Please share the research report who are those kids who felt stressed
      4) What is the right age of coding: please do your research again on this and you will find that it’s 6yrs because coding helps to stimulate brain, improve logical thinking and creativity
      5) Why only WhitehatJr ? Not that I really care but what I feel that it’s dirty marketing strategy to pull down a company which again I don’t care about but don’t pull down the youth of our country in that hole alongwith by saying coding is not necessary. It is the necessity of the digital generation and we are already too late opening up to it. We follow western countries in many things but this is where we should be looking up to them but we are not.

      To everyone who is reading this coding is the need of the hour, it’s not going to stress kids out but it’s interesting and fun and moreover it’s stimulate kids brain if done at early age. So once again don’t get mislead about a topic or subject like coding by these marketing competition propaganda of companies and their paid articles. Where you teach how you teach your children is your choice but chhode coding if Indian youth has to grow and if we as a country has to grow

Comments are closed.