In the 1400s, not more than 20% of the world’s population could read. We again stand at a similar position. However, 20% has decreased to 0.25% and we are instead talking about Programming. We live in an era where we are surrounded by heaps of technology from AR/VR to IoT. But not more than 0.3% of the global workforce can do programming. Not only are these numbers diminishingly small, but also bring the importance of coding to a big picture perspective. Coding is the new universal language that the world should aim for.
Automation and other paradigms of technology compel us to create more code and force our next generation to be really good at it. However, teaching how to code to a student can be a tough job when not done properly. Although high school level programming courses are good enough to start, they start off too late. Why wait when you can start early and do great? Here are 5 tips for teachers to teach your child to code in the best way possible!
Start Off Slow
Like any STEM course, it is very easy to make the entire subject boring with a few miscalculated steps. As we have always said in our articles, it is important for teachers to realize that extremely theory-based approaches don’t bode well with the student’s interests. The tip here is to start off slow and steady. We need to make sure that the student is engaged in coding as much as he or she would be in playing or doing any other activity that they love. So, we skip off some unwanted definitions like Object Oriented Programming or Data Encapsulation. These may be necessary for software engineers, but their necessity in a beginner’s curriculum is quite small.
Get your Hands-on that Computer!
As we have mentioned already, the theory must not be imposed on the curriculum for beginners. What is more important is that they get more experience as they go ahead with code. This brings us to the next pressing issue: Hands-On Practice. One can not understand and form an intuition about mathematics or physics without actually solving problems. Problems that ensure the right amount of theoretical learning comes to the student on its own will garner respect for mistakes. For example, when we learn how to drive a bicycle, a guardian gives us a push but slowly they also stop giving it. This is quite similar to that. A small push can do the trick. If the student falls, let that get up and start again. This is a mistake that they must overcome. No amount of theoretical learning will ever replace the lessons learned from these mistakes.
Projects are the thing!
It is also important to build the right problems for solving them. One thing that is more important is to build just the right problem which has both – the right level of skill application and a strong sense of achievement. Let’s say we give students a task to code a simple game. We need them to put two cars against each other in a race. Essentially, they can begin with just two grey colored blocks on a black background, trying to remain ahead of each other. This in its own right is a fun programming task! Calling these tasks projects and letting students deliver these on their own will not only make them remarkable coders but also ready them to be real-world problem solvers.
Assessing the Skill
Now that we are actually dumping the conventional system and learning in our own unique, self-paced way, we need to figure out how to assess our learning. One thing the conventional system is really good at is telling you where you when pitted against more students of similar interests. However, for the STEM way of learning, we need to quit this idea. We need to make sure that the individual develops and becomes better by the day. So, for assessment, instead of having tests, students should be asked to write programs in more efficient ways. Once a basic coding skill is reached, students can be taught the notion of complexity and how they can use it to better their own codes. This will make them see how to write better and better codes all the while escaping a toxic ranking system the conventional system throws at you.
The World Online
Learning doesn’t end in the classrooms and hence we need to emphasize on the available resources online. A lot of source codes for both parents and educators can be found on a lot of websites, for example, GitHub, Arduino.cc, etc. We can always refer to these and show it to students how the real world codes to orient them for writing better code.
Additionally, online courses like STEMpedia’s Introduction to Programming with PictoBlox can prove to be a boon for students who either have never write a line of code before or are at a nascent stage. The specially of this course is that it teaches them to code using their powerful graphical programming platform, PictoBlox, which is based on Scratch. PictoBlox makes learning to code easy, interactive, and fun by teaching them to code with graphical drag-and-drop elements known as blocks which eliminate the need to memorize the syntax before one can actually start to learn to code.
The list of resources is endless and all we need to do is to push the limit every time a beginner does better and better.
In a Nutshell
Coding is essential for students these days and will one day become a universal language. To teach it in the perfect balance, students need to be exposed to many smaller paradigms of learning. Problem and project-based learning is an answer to learning the STEM way!