Teaching kids to code outside the curriculum and classroom

This is from Emma Mulqueeny (@hubmum), a friend, a prime mover of Young Rewired State (http://youngrewiredstate.org/), and tireless advocate of young people building a better world through coding.

Here she describes the practical and (I would say) agile steps that an initiative called Computing at School (http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/) is taking to help schoolkids to learn to code. Recognising that top-down lobbying and petitioning efforts are going to take years to come to fruition, they are tapping into volunteer effort, working in the cracks of institutional education to provide interesting and fun ways to learn. See the Computer Science for Fun site, for example (http://cs4fn.org.uk/).

Emma’s time frame is 9 or 10 years. My hunch is that by then they may have got so good at working around the traditional classroom way of doing things that dragging coding back into that formal setting may seem unnecessary or even like a step back.

Open Education: It’s not impossible, it’s already here

There is an almighty (thank goodness) brauhaha at the moment about teaching programming in schools, indeed upping the interweaving of digital teaching throughout all subjects (beyond googling the best essay ever on any given subject). But there is the huge gap in enthusiasm amongst the young generations – relatively easy to solve – and the ability of teachers to teach all a young person needs to know in this future digital world, one that many have not grown up in, let alone been taught how to teach, this is harder.

Open education?

Well, it’s not impossible it is already here. Computing at Schools is an excellent example of open education. The head of ICT might not know how to teach Python to a bunch of 9 year olds and make it fun – but Mrs Miggins down the road does.

So please, when you hear the counter-argument to teaching kids to code being that teachers can’t do it, that’s not true, they can – it will be a good decade until they are officially trained to do so, but even then all they really need to know is how to teach, then they can choose what they teach, and it is an ongoing learning path, I am sure (unless it’s Latin or Ancient Greek).

Until then, let’s nurture open education. If you can code and know that you might be able to help a teacher, or write some open source software for use in schools – please do it.

I would encourage everyone to start with Computing at School (CAS) as it is already here and already plugging right into the heart of the teaching network. CAS is a grass-roots organisation and that is the only place we can start. Top-down simply will not work – anyone think we will still be learning Scratch in 2020?

And here is a link to Computing at Schools – http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/

Read more at mulqueeny.wordpress.com

 
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