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There is a growing awareness, especially amongst IT professionals, career advisors and even parents of school-aged children, that Computational Thinking (CT) needs to be a part of education across the whole Primary and Secondary educational landscape, not just a part of optional IT subjects in the Senior High School years. This does not necessary mean…
Meeting the requirement set by Mayor Bill de Blasio for New York public schools will present major challenges, mostly in training enough teachers.
Paul Herring's insight:
Great article with some great stats and quotes like: "Mr. Samuels-Kalow said he found that students are often willing to work harder in his classes than in their other classes, because the rewards of, say, being able to play a game that they designed were so enticing. And, by working with his colleagues, he said, he can sometimes find ways to reinforce concepts that students are struggling with in other courses.
Andrea Berlin, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of archaeology, who specializes in Middle Eastern pottery made during the period from five centuries before Christ to 640 C.E., is one of them. Berlin says archaeological digs and other historical research have uncovered such a mountain of data that “most archaeologists cannot wrap their arms around it.” She’s hoping to develop a website and app that would allow scholars who aren’t computer scientists to gather, mix, and match that information—by time period, region, and other traits. Then a political scientist, for instance, could “compare the patterns, intensity, and direction of trade under earlier political regimes as revealed by archaeological evidence, and gain hard data and real insight into the relationship between economies and various imperial systems,” she says. Currently, no one can do that, because “there’s no venue by which somebody could access the data.”
Computers and computational thinking have revolutionized the way she regards information and its uses. “I used to think of archaeological data as a great mass comprised of many separate items—whole things,” she says. But like an atom, each individual datum can be split into different attributes, and “different users might want to deploy selections of those attributes for different and various questions,” like that hypothetical political scientist mapping ancient trade routes.
Coding is only one aspect of the technology industry, with innovation and creativity being just as important, but the skill is more than just executing simple commands on-screen. Coding teaches children how to think critically and how to be proficient problem solvers and inspires them to imagine the many possibilities computing has to offer.
"Knowing that problems aren’t… a problem gives us the confidence to try new thing."
The computational thinking skills that coding teaches us are incredibly important: we learn how to deal with problems, how to break them up into their component parts, figure out where the issue is, what the issue is, work out a fix and then implement that fix. Over time this practice builds confidence. Knowing that problems aren’t… a problem gives us the confidence to try new things and to try old things in new ways, knowing that when we come across a problem we know how to deal with it is empowering. Industry is crying out for our future generations to be more innovative, to think outside the box. Problem solving skills are life skills, important no matter what path our children choose to take.
Critical thinking is another skill that all children can possess and develop, so setting logical questions for them to experiment with is an important element to any lesson. Once they’re ready, tell your students that they are going to write a program, they need to think about what this program needs to accomplish, how that needs to be interpreted in order to write a program for it, then write the program. They will soon be building skills without even realising it!
Implementing a cross-curricular approach to the subject can really help to develop this further. By allowing pupils to consider the links between computing and other disciplines, such as coordinates in Geography, variables in maths or electronics in science, they will be able to get to grips with the idea of computational thinking far quicker
In the universe of computer science, the definition and application of computational thinking is widely acknowledged as a pathway to problem solving, easily transferable to other academic subjects and even everyday life.
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