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Code Club

A few weeks ago I attended a Code Club – I know that these are targeted at an age groups significantly younger than me – something that has been pointed out with amusement by a number of people, but I want to learn code and it’s difficult to do from a book.

So, knowing someone, who knows someone, I got in contact with the host of the Code Club in Chiswick (@DinisCruz) and had my first session.

We started off with Scratch – a MIT designed program that allows people to learn the basics of coding.  At the time I had no experience of coding and I struggled, but I was determined to achieve something, so I made my first game.  I am absurdly proud of it.  Two hours I spent trying to get to grips with the rules of Scratch and trying to adapt my thinking to the format.  I’m not sure I managed it.

The hardest part was reminding myself of how the individual statements are separate units.  I found it untidy and struggled to see the whole picture, the same issues I had when learning to do markup on my website, but I will talk about that in a later blog post.  Although, my stubbornness at not being outdone by the under tens in attendance helped.

I showed my “game” to my 6-year-old nephew and he was instantly excited by it, demanding I set up an account for him to have a go and make his own game.  He explored every section of the program, designing different avatars, making different backdrops, making them interact with each other.  In  an hour he had gone beyond what I knew about Scratch from my two hour session.  He was so interested in learning more and I couldn’t teach him and that frustrated me.  However, curious scamp that he is, he just kept playing around until he managed to make things work for him.  4 hours he spent in that session, and wanted to keep going.

I recognised that sense of frustration from teachers, myself included, wanting to do more but not having the knowledge to.  We become teachers because we want to teach, we love to see that interest in our students, to see that “ah!” moment, to have them ask questions because they want to know more about something.  But times are changing quickly and it is hard to keep up with those changes while having a 60 hour (minimum) week.  I completed my degree in Neuroscience in 2005, 8 years later my degree is old news, but nowhere is this fast pace of changing knowledge more obvious than in ICT.  The technology that students take for granted is relatively new to us but something that they grew up with;  they are Digital Natives, to use the correct terminology.   We, as teachers, need to learn it before we can teach it.  An hour training session is not necessarily enough for a teacher to become confident on using a new piece of technology, an iPad for instance.  If you are not confident in your understanding, how can you be confident in your teaching?

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