Mitchel Resnick thinks every child must learn to code. He believes coding must not be restricted to a chosen few who understand intricate mathematical logic. He believes coding is the new global language and all children must and can be fluent in interacting with new technologies. Infants are comfortable using an iPad or any touch surface. No reason then that they cannot move on to writing for these technologies.
More importantly he says children learn by coding, as they learn to code.
“Because as they learn to code, it enables them to learn many other things, opens up many new opportunities for learning. Again, it’s useful to make an analogy to reading and writing. When you learn to read and write, it opens up opportunities for you to learn so many other things. When you learn to read, you can then read to learn. And it’s the same thing with coding. If you learn to code, you can code to learn.
…many different core principles of design, about how to experiment with new ideas, how to take complex ideas and break them down into simpler parts, how to collaborate with other people on your projects, about how to find and fix bugs when things go wrong,how to keep persistent and to persevere in the face of frustrations when things aren’t working well. Now those are important skills that aren’t just relevant for coding. They’re relevant for all sorts of different activities.“
Who, you ask is Michael(Mitch) Resnick? He is LEGO Paper Professor of Learning Research and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, who explores how new technologies can engage people in creative learning experiences. Resnick’s research group developed the “programmable brick” technology that inspired the LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit. He co-founded the Computer Clubhouse project, a worldwide network of after-school centers where youths from low-income communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies. Resnick’s group also developed Scratch, an online community where children program and share interactive stories, games, and animations.
President Obama while giving a note on a nation-wide initiative to introduce coding in American schools said,
“Don’t just buy a new video game, make one. Don’t just download the latest app, design it. Don’t just play on your phone, program it.”
Watch Resnick’s full talk at Ted Talk here:
There are some great free resources you can help your child use to learn to code.
Scratch: Scratch is a programming language and an online community where children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world. As children create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically. Scratch is designed and maintained by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab.
This resource is aimed at 8-12-year-olds, but anyone who wants to try their hand at coding can use them.If you’re just getting started, there’s a step-by-step guide available inside Scratch, or you can download the Getting Started guide (PDF). The Scratch Cards provide a fun way to learn more.
Coderdojo: is a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. At a Dojo, young people, between 7 and 17, learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and explore technology in an informal and creative environment. In addition to learning to code, attendees meet like minded people and are exposed to the possibilities of technology.
Code.org:Launched in 2013, Code.org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Their vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. Code.org believes computer science should be part of the core curriculum, alongside other courses such as biology, chemistry or algebra.
Codeacademy: This coding site is for advanced learners. Teenagers who have an appetite for Python, HTML & CSS, Ruby and PHP this is the go to the site.
Crunchzilla: This website has different learning levels for coding. Code Monster is for pre-teens and younger; Code Maven is for teens and adults
Hackety Hack: this website has lessons on the open-source (free and editable) programming language Ruby.
Stencyl: this site allows the user to publish games on different platforms- Android, iPhone and iPad without code.
Eric Schmidt, Executive chairman, Google says, “For most people on Earth, the digital revolution hasn’t even started yet. Within the next 10 years, all that will change. Let’s get the whole world coding!”
Astronaut and Leland Melvin, speaks about the universality and supreme functionality, “Computers play an increasingly larger role in all fields of science; they’re helping us explore outer-space and our solar system. Whether you want to become a doctor or an astronaut, it would help to learn the basics of computer programming.”
Still confused if you should help children learn to code, watch this short film on computer programming.