Yesterday on this blog, I posted an advert on ThinkAheads “coding camp”. Here are some of my thoughts about coding from a young age… and camping while we are at it.
So, I am pretty sure when a year or so ago you as a teacher heard the ground breaking
and soul destroying news that kids should be coding we all did a collective, long and loud *sigh*. Thoughts of “How.On.Earth.” and “When will we have time?” and “WTF” (why the face, obvs.) probably went through your mind, and then 37 seconds later you forgot all about it except for the occasional Facebook/Twitter war between the eminently pro and opposed iPad fundamentalists.
Now I am all for old school education. Piaget was a champ: concrete, concrete, concrete! And I agree, kids need to experience everything in the concrete form before they can safely move to an abstract level. I love concrete. I love sitting on concrete and doing concrete things. So obviously something like coding would be, in the minds of those opposed to all things coded, the anti-Piaget regime out to destroy the young minds and feed off their souls leading them into a life of poor directionality and bad pencil grip. Dramatic much? You should see my FB feed.
I was lucky enough to have computer science as a matric subject.
Do I remember any of it? Not really.
Could I make the triangle turtle move across the screen? Probably not.
Has this subject helped me with anything in life? Yes! Of Course! I can totally tally numbers in excel and crop pictures in word. Jokes, but seriously, my ability to problem solve and attack technology with confidence has made this evolution into 21st century teaching so much easier. I went to a pretty amazing University. I studied under the most amazing dean, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, who is beyond inspiring, but not once in the RNCS or more recently the CAPS document does the integration of technology come in effectively. We say it all the time “the teacher is no longer the source of all information” “we have powerful resources that can supplement teaching” “let’s give them an iPad with sand art and pretend we taught them technology” … exactly. We aren’t the source of all information. We have amazing tools. But let’s not actually integrate this into our curriculum?
Am I right?
That’s where coding comes in. I was lucky enough a few months ago to see the super inspirational and far too patient Linda Bradshaw from St Mary’s Waverley share some of the cool new things they had been doing with coding in their preschool. No worksheets. No iPads. Just her, her self made grid and her cute little beep-bots. This little bee was teaching kids as young as 4 and 5 basic coding. It also taught some other things:
Directionality : Yes
Mid line crossing: Yes
Position in space: Yes
Counting on and backwards: Yes
Problem solving: Yes
Critical thinking: Yes
All whilst working on a concrete grid with a concrete Bee. I think Piaget would be proud.
The beauty is tools like these come with apps to help differentiation and moving this newly acquired knowledge into the abstract sphere. In one lesson she managed to integrate multiple learning areas in a very concrete way.
It’s a win win really. I did some googling (cause I don’t know everything) and I found a site called Tynker Blog, they basically sum it up into 4 main reasons why we should code.
1. Programming is basic literacy
2. It’s a way to create change
3. “You have an idea for the next big tech innovation? Great! Can you bring it to life?”
4. Programming isn’t that hard to learn. (Mandarin is! Come on DoE!)
Check out their blog to see more details on the topic. They have some epic videos too.
So let me get back to where I started: should we be coding? Yes! Should we be coding all day every day? No, but how can we not let kids dabble with this information in a highly technological world that will one day expect adults who are able to grasp the ever changing realm of technology and adults who can *code. We need our learners to not only speaking fluent English/Afrikaans/Zulu/Maths/Madarine, but also they need to be speaking “code”.
*someone please invent Tinder but for my highly saturated Pinterest boards.
Should we be afraid? No! Like Paul Hamilton said here we have “champions”. People at our schools who bravely code where no one has coded before. People who break down the hard steps and figure out what fits best in your schools IT culture. Soon the SAMR model will be a thing of the past and little kiddies all over the world will be redefining eduction to fit their needs and learning styles.
So why don’t we all set 1 goal. Start by just reading about coding. How it can be taught. Then maybe download an App or 2 and give it to your early work finishes and let them see how they cope, see their reaction and then maybe, just maybe the thought of coding in the curriculum won’t be so scary and foreign but rather something that could assist your teaching.
And the camping part?
Yeah, I chalet more hey.