Computing at Christ Church School
As I’m sure you’ve read in the national press, changes to the National Curriculum in 2014 have seen a slight shift in the teaching of Information Technology, or as it’s now known, ‘Computing’. The principal and most dramatic change has been the introduction of coding to the syllabus. ‘Coding’, or ‘programming’ as it’s also called, is the ability to read and write a machine language, as well as to think computationally. The teaching and learning of coding represents a significant move away from the traditional teaching and learning of how to use computers and their software towards the teaching and learning of how to create the software and understand the inner workings of a computer.
Learning to code is equated by many with learning to read and write and is starting to be given similar importance. The learning of machine languages can be treated in much the same way as the learning of human languages. Just as some human languages are more difficult to learn than others, some machine languages involve trickier grammar or more complex syntax. The test in both cases is whether the language learner can create something that makes sense to others and whether the machine runs the programmed code in the way you expected.
Coding teaches children a number of very important skills that can be used across the curriculum.
Writing, debugging and remixing your own and other people's code are fundamentally problem-solving activities. Whether it's code that won't run because of syntax errors, something working differently than you expected or figuring out how to do something cool, these are all things that involve lateral thinking. And often this problem-solving involves working with other people – either in real-time or following tutorials, blog posts and ‘how tos’ (and then sharing back).
2. (DIGITAL) CONFIDENCE
Literacy often leads to an increased sense of confidence. Not only confidence in terms of social interaction, but also a sense of agency in shaping the environments in which people find themselves. In digital (or blended) environments, this means people not only being able to decode what they see, but encode it too: reading, writing and thinking computationally instead of merely elegantly consuming what others have produced.
3. UNDERSTANDING THE WORLD
Steve Jobs once talked about the importance of realising that everything around you has “been made up by someone who was no smarter than you.” Realising that you can not only change and influence things, but build things that other people can use is, he says, “perhaps the most important thing.” In a world where almost everything has either a digital component or is somehow digitally mediated, being able to both read and write our environment is more important than ever.
From our experience, children are picking up the art of coding almost intuitively. With more and more resources appearing on the internet each week to help your child learn to code, there’s no reason why they couldn’t carry on their learning at home. If you’re lucky, they might even take the time to show you a thing or two.
If you would like to have a go at coding at home, why not try some of these helpful links to get you started? Choose from standalone websites, apps or downloadable programs. It is recommended that children try their hand at a range of different programming languages; it makes for a more versatile coder as well as a more interesting experience.
Want to get ahead in coding?
There are a number of titles on the market at the moment which provide a suitable introduction to coding for children (and adults alike!). Although by no means a comprehensive list, the titles below are a great place to start.