Mitch Resnick, a director and professor at MIT Media Lab, highlights great reasons for children to code. He is also the creator of Scratch, a coding app designed to help kids use their creativity and imagination to create their own games and other types of applications.
In his 2012 TED Talk, Let's teach kids to code, Resnick talks about computer fluency. He argues that although young people may be "digital natives," they are only half fluent in digital literacy. In other words, they can "read" (text, browse, email, post, game), but most can't "write" (code, program).
In the earlier days of computer science, programming was left for high schoolers or university students. Nowadays, kindergartners can get an early start in coding. Already, kids using Scratch are able to make games, animated stories, virtual construction kits, and interactive artwork, just for starters. By the time this generation becomes adults, the types of programs and software created could be mind-boggling!
Resnick talked not only about learning to code, but, more importantly perhaps, the notion of coding to learn. He gave the example of a child using a variable to create his fish-eating game. For this coder, his understanding of a variable was much deeper because he was using it in a real-life situation. It wasn't just an abstract concept in a textbook, but a part of his computer game that he and others played.
Other benefits from coding to learn include the following: process of design; experimenting using trial-and-error; breaking larger ideas into manageable parts; collaborating; solving problems (errors, bugs); being persistent and persevering when hitting roadblocks. These are essential life-skills.
Resnick acknowledges that probably most students will not end up being coders, programmers or computer scientists, but as mentioned above, there are immense benefits in coding to learn. That's probably why ADST is now a part of our BC curriculum.
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.