This is a recently published article about a parent’s effort to get her children interested in coding during the lockdown. I think this is extremely relevant to my work, not least because it is set in the UK! Ruth Moore, despite having very little previous exposure to coding, wanted to get her children started in the subject since this is something they would not be doing at school (unfortunately!). She found an online resource, specifically geared towards younger children, that aided her in doing so.
Much of the article discusses the specific website she used that offered coding instruction via a game called “Puppy Adventures.” This is very much directed at an audience younger than the one I have for my own coding lessons, but I still found there to be some interesting perspectives.
Moore discusses one of the most challenging parts of the experience on her end: stopping herself from interfering too much with her children’s learning process. As an adult, she was able to more quickly identify when they were not choosing the most efficient pathway, but letting them realise this is part of the learning process. I have no problems admitting the control freak in me disagrees with this perspective, but the student side of me strongly agrees. It is through experimentation – repeated trial and error – that a student really gets to know a subject. Eventually, they will be able to find the most efficient solution to a problem by themselves. The learning process requires faith from the teacher.
That said, I think some guidance in problem solving, at least in the very beginning stages, is useful. From my own experience, I believe that learning by example can be very effective. Watching someone else solve a problem does not necessarily mean you are memorising a thought process to simply regurgitate every time you see a similar problem. Rather, doing so can help the student by exposing them to new thought processes which they had not previously thought of. In other words, some guidance can be very valuable to the learning experience.