I read about Code Club when it first started in 2012, and we've just finished our first term of teaching it at Lostwithiel School.
The idea is to encourage 9-11 year olds to start programming in after-school clubs, we had about a dozen kids coming along to our club and they all made fantastic progress!
Across the country
Code Club is entirely run by volunteers, across the UK there are almost 4,000 clubs with almost 50,000 children! That's about a fifth of the total number of primary schools on the country, which isn't bad for the first four years.
Code Club itself is run the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the same organisation that makes the tiny cheap computer which is the UK's best selling PC of all time.
We've been following Google's brilliant CS First programme, and for the first term we chose their Storytelling topic to teach the kids in our club to code using Scratch, a free visual language created by MIT that runs entirely in the browser so there's no need to install anything on the school laptops.
The Storytelling topic is great because its main focus is using the tools to tell interesting stories, rather than just teach while loops in a dry manner. It's brilliant, and I bet the kids didn't even realise they're learning anything!
I've always had a computer, we got a Sinclair ZX80 in 1980, and my parents ran a small business hiring out ZX Spectrums and Dragon 32s in the early 1980s.
I spent a reasonable amount of my childhood typing in lines of Basic code from computer magazines.
10 DIM s(60): DIM c(60) 20 BORDER 0: PAPER 0: BRIGHT 1: INK 7: CLS 50 GO SUB 370 60 LET z$="00" 70 CLS
I kind of understood it, but not enough that I could write my own games.
Later on I wrote a couple of text adventures games on my Commodore Amiga and played about with the Amiga's Shoot Em Up Construction Kit, but never really seriously. I didn't learn any real structured programming until I started building websites in 1997.
When we're running Code Club I always think about how my life might be different if this had existed when I was young.
Everything I've learned about programming has been self taught, trial and error, or learning by reading other people's code.
The basics of coding aren't complicated, and I think they're well within the grasp of most 9-11 year olds. If someone had taught me code when I was nine I would be a much better programmer now!
Look what we've done with the current generation of programmers, a lot of whom are self-taught like me. Imagine what the next generation of programmers are going to be capable of building!
But something's been bothering me about this ever since we started Code Club, which was very clearly articulated by a Wired article back in May.
Machine Learning like Google's Go-playing AI or their self-driving cars aren't following computer programmes in the way that we're teaching kids to code, and it's only a matter of time before even the humans that created these tools aren't capable of understanding how they behave at their core.
How useful is it to be teaching this way of coding which might be going obsolete by the time they finish school?
In ten days we're leaving the UK for new adventures in Spain...Read more
Archive2016December 2016 (2)November 2016 (2)October 2016 (2)September 2016 (3)August 2016 (4)July 2016 (5)June 2016 (4)May 2016 (4)April 2016 (5)March 2016 (4)February 2016 (4)January 2016 (5)2015December 2015 (4)November 2015 (4)October 2015 (5)September 2015 (4)August 2015 (4)July 2015 (4)June 2015 (4)May 2015 (5)April 2015 (4)March 2015 (4)February 2015 (4)January 2015 (4)
What's this about?
Hi I'm Mat and I'm addicted to new hobbies. I used to think this was a bad thing but now I'm embracing it.
Writing them all up in this blog encourages me to finish projects, and helps me keep track of which ones I've tried.
I can't believe it's been a year already. Here's a round-up of my first fifty posts, with my favourites and the most viewed posts in case you missed any...
Also in Inside my brain...
I've been working on this as a concept for a long time and I wanted to write it down to clarify it for myself, although of course you're welcome to read it too...