Hour of Code week (err….Computer Science Education Week) is quickly approaching and the number of participants continues to grow rapidly. Social media is full of smiling faces, glowing screens and happy teachers engaged in wonderful coding tutorials.
But this is where it falls apart. Tutorials. The end. Done. Finished. The box is checked. Next!
Like any kind of learning, students need to develop an understanding before they can use these tools to create content. We learn to spell before we write. We learn to count to do math. We learn multiplication tables before we find the area of shapes. We do the Hour of Code so we can …..
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the Hour of Code movement. However, this ‘movement’ started decades ago. DECADES.
Hour of Code tutorials are the building blocks to innovation, design thinking, critical and creative thinking. The Hour of Code is a great entry point, but not a destination. There are many layers involved with implementing sandbox tools where kids are all doing different things at the same time. Scratch is a wonderful tool to have kids demonstrate learning using principles of Geometry. But, things like grades and rubrics might hinder the experience. How can we foster creativity when we provide students with structured limits? Can we even standardize creativity? Surely it is not a score out of 10.
The Hour of Code is a great entry point, but not a destination.
So, please celebrate Computer Science Education Week by engaging in some fun lessons and tutorials. But please remember that like telescopes to astronomy, coding is a snippet of what Computer Science is all about.
We should be clear – Dec 4 – 10 is Computer Science Education Week! Coding is a snippet, like telescopes to astronomy – many tools in the belt – but only a small part of the bigger picture of what CS truly is! #tvdsbtech #HourOfCode
— Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) November 22, 2017
Do we tell students to all write about the same thing?
Do we encourage reading by giving all students the same book?
Did we all learn to drive in the same car?
I’m leery about the one size fits all model and am fearful that ONLY participating in the Hour of Code does very little to progress education. Coding is a safe space to try new things without fear, learn from immediate feedback, fail, observe, remix and try again. Just simply participating in tutorials is more about knowledge construction.
What we do with this knowledge is where the real value lies.
If you would like to use coding as a tool in your class to support curriculum, check out my tutorials at www.hourofcuriosity.com