Yesterday I gave a talk for the South Carolina iSTEM group at Saluda Trail Middle School. It was exciting to speak to teachers. Teachers that are working towards bettering the education experience. If you don’t know what STEM is, its an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. I spoke on the Hour of Code, which is an initiative from Code.org to get students to learn an hour of code (or coding) this week. The Hour of Code is backed by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple and many other big named players in the tech space. I was honored to be able to speak for 2 hours on the subject. Some of the highlights of my talk include:
Over coming the fear of getting started. Its hard to teach coding, when you don’t code. But understand that if you’re authentic, and put forth the effort, your students will get it. The goal isn’t to have your students leave as expert coders, but to have them leave confident in themselves and hopefully, with some insight into what Coding really is.
Dispelling misconceptions of coders. People think that all programmers do is code. That’s so far from the truth. There’s a great deal of other skills needed, including communication (both written and oral), creativity, math, research, etc. There is also a thought that all coders are introverted. I had my team take a personality test a few months back and shockingly, 100% of my team are extroverts. That’s right, 100%. There is also a misconception that coders like to be locked away in a dungeon to pound out code… some do, but not all. There is also a misconception that coders are middle aged white guys. Far from the truth. My team includes people from Hispanic descent, African Americans, females and white males. Diversity is important for teams to get different input and perspectives.
I also talked about the benefits of understanding coding at an early age. How it helps develop critical thinking skills, creativity, confidence and problem solving skills. Our athletes start learning their craft when they are very young. My 5-year-old started both soccer and basketball at age 3. But the people that write code to keep our airplanes in the sky, our medical equipment functioning, and our military systems armed don’t start learning their craft until college?? Really? Something seems wrong here. I believe that coding should be taught along side Math, English, Social Studies as a core course for all k-12 schools. Imagine if those graduating college with a computer science degree already had 16 years of coding under their belt. The things they could do would be amazing.
I hope all teachers out there participate in the hour of code for your schools, and those that aren’t teachers, but work in technology should donate some time, help a school out or setup your own workshop to assist during the hour of code.
For more information about the hour of code, check out code.org.
I hope you enjoyed this show, please head over to iTunes and subscribe and leave me a rating and review, even 1 sentence will help spread the word. Thanks again!