Should Everyone Learn to Code?

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Should everyone learn to code? Maybe, maybe not…but that is not exactly what I aim to debate on this blog (although I welcome the debate if it happens!)

I do, however, believe that every child should have a shot at understanding and learning about coding. Because of that, I’ve come to believe that in the not-too-distant future, teachers will need to know something about computer programming. We should know what code is, know how to write some of it, and know about the types of thinking it takes to successfully write code.

Why?

Because it will make us better teachers!  As our world becomes more and more computer-driven, there will be more and more conversations about computer programming.  More and more children will want to explore and learn coding. Should all those children be encouraged to become professional computer programmers?  Not necessarily, but their natural interests and curiosities around coding and computer programming should be encouraged and supported as they figure out whether or not programming is something they’d like to pursue.

Further, How can teachers support the interests and curiosities if they themselves have no idea what coding is or how it can be used?  We can sit children in front of computers with Hour of Code, or a Scratch tutorial, but if we ourselves don’t know what they are doing, how can we help and support them?  Are we really being good teachers?

I think much of the debate around “should everyone learn to code?” largely misses the point.   Continue reading

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Interest-Based Learning: Keeping it Lively!

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From “Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby”. Click the image to see the book!

Ruby has quickly become my language of choice. There’s something about it that just draws me. It might be because I’ve started reading “Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby”, and he agrees it’s important to submit to something that draws you.

Not familiar?  Here’s a passage:

“This world’s too big for such a a little language, I thought. Poor little thing doesn’t stand a chance. Doesn’t have legs to stand on. Doesn’t have arms to swim.”

…”So, now you’re wondering why I changed my mind about Ruby. The quick answer is: we clicked.

Like when you meet Somebody in college and they look like somebody who used to hit you in the face with paintbrushes when you were a kid. And so, impulsively, you conclude that this new Somebody is likely a non-friend. You wince at their hair. You hang up phones loudly during crucial moments in their anecdotes. You use your pogo stick right there where they are trying to walk!

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Inspiration: Learning By Doing

The article, American Schools Are Training Kids for a World That Doesn’t Exist, by David Edwards, provides some incredibly important perspectives for educators to consider: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/on-learning-by-doing/

Describing current educational trends, the article states: “We ‘learn,’ and after this we ‘do.’ We go to school and then we go to work. This approach does not map very well to personal and professional success in America today. Learning and doing have become inseparable in the face of conditions that invite us to discover.”

The authors go on to describe some important movements bubbling up through the cracks of our institutions: “Discovery has always provoked interest, but how one discovers may today interest us even more. Educators, artists, designers, museum curators, scientists, engineers, entertainment designers and others are creatively responding to this new reality, and, together, they are redefining what it means to learn in America.”

Part of the reason I’m learning to code and writing this blog is because I believe that In order for students to adopt and maintain attitudes of discovery, teachers need to be discoverers too.  We  must play, design, experiment, and find joy in the process in order to be effective in our jobs and nurture the natural creative genius in our students.  I’m not yet sure if I believe that every teacher will need to learn to code, but I do believe that every teacher needs to find and nurture their own creative passions and seek new creative challenges to tackle.

What will it take for our schools to provide professional development that fosters teacher discovery?

What will it take for teacher education programs to nurture discovery mindsets in new generations of teachers?

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Inspiration: Dispositional Thinking

Check out “Dispositional Thinking, Changing the Game”:  http://teachingonthewind.wordpress.com/

“Dispositional thinking is about changing the focus from learning being something you are good or bad at, to something that is learnable and changeable, something that you can practice and improve; moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. It’s about developing the skills that support learning and are, at the same time, invaluable in 21st century workplaces.”

This empowers me as I bumble through my personal journey to learn to code, and is something I’d like to think more about. However, I think the ideas presented here are relevant in a much broader sense for all teachers, teacher educators, and beyond!

If you have comments, please post them on the original page.