It may be that learning to code is the best way to develop those very thinking skills.
Programming languages come and go. And it doesn’t much matter whether most people master the subtleties of semicolon use in Python versus C. But the basic abilities to think a problem through carefully, clearly and thoroughly are essential for just about all people in just about all fields.
The analogy to cursive handwriting turns out to be an instructive one, though perhaps not for the reasons intended. New research, summarized in a June 2nd article by Maria Konnikova at The New York Times, suggests that the process of learning to write cursive may itself be important for learning to read, to write and, perhaps, even to generate ideas — no matter that the resulting ability is often replaced by a keyboard and decent typing proficiency.
Similarly, it may be that programming is a skill that makes us the kinds of thinkers that we need to be, even if we ultimately have the option of outsourcing our coding to clever machines.