A couple of weeks ago, I did a short series on gaming in the classroom, highlighting some of the programs and online resources we like best. Since that time, Eva has completed her chosen module on the Descartes Cove math game, and escaped her digital number-laden island. Though she enjoyed Descartes Cove, really she’s never been “that into” math, and didn’t want to begin another module. Starting next fall, I’ve promised a year of hands-on math learning: origami, geometry, pattern making and discovery, Fibonacci work, etc. She can’t wait. But for now, we’re kind of stuck, because I need a summer of planning to make sure this approach really works for her. I want to get her excited about math again.
This got me thinking. Eva’s about two grade levels ahead of where she needs to be in the traditional math trajectory, so we have the luxury of time. (There is plenty of room for debate over the worthiness of the accepted established trajectory, but that’s not for this post.) I started reflecting about the video from Code.org that I shared last week – how coding is the language of the future. No – that’s not exactly right. It’s the language of our present.
When you look at the traditional education model, coding is mostly absent. Perhaps in some high schools you could take a coding elective, but it’s not part of the core; it’s excluded from the “real” sciences like biology, chemistry, physics. Or should it be considered a math? If so, it certainly is nowhere in our math lineup of AlgebrathroughCalculus. But so essential. Coding is everywhere! Apps, webpages, facebook, youtube – you name it. It runs our lives, yet we know nothing about it, reserving it for “computer guys” who are 20-something mostly men who speak what seems to us a foreign language.
What-evs, as Eva would say. I’m taking this back for my kids. Today I offered to Eva the opportunity to study coding as her math time for the rest of the semester. We popped up Code.org’s website, and she got to work, immediately completing her first coding challenge, earning points, and looking like a Boss.
Code.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to – you guessed it – teaching people how to code. They are a coalition of sorts, cleanly offering a selection of online education options, like a buffet. Scratch, Codeacademy, Khan Academy, and CodeHS are all right there on the same page. Click on one, and you start immediately. Change your mind? No problem. The other tabs are still there, patiently waiting their turn. Eva started with Codeacademy. And though reluctant at first, Ian completed his first Codeacademy assignment as well, admitting upon completion that it was “pretty cool.”
Here’s the deal: my kids don’t want to grow up to be computer programmers. I’m fine with that – they don’t have to be. But wouldn’t it be cool if Ian wanted to create an app for drummers that helped them practice rhythms (this was actually suggested by his band instructor), and he had the skills to make that happen? That’s for me. And the best thing is that the instruction is right here, right now, free, user friendly, and available. What are you waiting for?
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