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Teach our kids to code? No, teach them how to think

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the an of the and if you if want to use the
world the but don't don't just don't do
it without the use OK thank you very much and logical make and this is my 1st talk Republican so so far i've on in a spectator that these talks I'm glad to be with you and talking to you and so what I mean it's talk about so talk of
my title possibly slightly provocative title here how to teach out it's a code no
1st teach them how to think and basically I'm here to make a case that in the case on make is that this phenomenon in uh in IT education was seen in the last few years teach kids to code it is worthwhile and it's a noble cause I think it's good but I also think that something is missing and added the matter will make a case that so what we should do and add to it to make it even better so to that is pretty
well talk about an I want and give you a brief overview of how we got here and which is basically a history of how we try to teach kids I t in computing in the
past and then so if you if you don't already know what teach kids to codes all about you you'll find out and then I'll go through some of the problems I think and that there is a problem with this approach teach kids to code and Mimosa can rely on other commentators in industry and academia to kind of make the argument for me also quote that I just happen to agree with these people and welcome to the other how to think part of the talk that out of the not is this thing called computational thinking which is an idea that aims to fill in what's missing with the teach kids to code so the 1st of all I'm just a little bit about me just you wondering who are mine waste listen to this guy and so I'm software development that's me my early professional days surrounded by some of the latest technology and I want to suffer companies very big very small he because cofounder my own a few years ago I'm a teacher and
so I had a student in academia and for a few years I was researching but also taught and novice university students who have never written a line of code before talking how to program also talk the other and that
extreme and mean corporate settings with very very advanced people and probably more than me about the subject I was teaching them and
also a writer I developing picture of writing that kind of make or not but I was writing is something that takes a what my
time these days and I just finished my 2nd book which constantly is about computational
thinking and asking more later if you want to know OK so let's get to the meat the talk as the story so far and so what's the 1st of these attempts to teach code indicates in schools was and this idea came from small pockets who was a pioneer in education and I'm at the MIT Media Lab the idea was and a playful approach to learning programming using this thing called logo programming which is a kind of programming language and which allow that
you need to control pen sometimes called the total because it was and sometimes a physical total with a little pen in its stomach the other times of the virtual total but but whatever you gave it commands like move forward moved turn
rights and down and up and as a result of giving it commands you could be instructed to make pictures that included things like
looping was so you can draw a line turn right reliant on right and so on and you draw a square and for example make decisions so if something is close the case do that otherwise do that and so these are things which you should recognize maybe from coding if you know how to program and the idea was that this would encourage children to become apprentices epistemologists given and problem solving skills which would serve them in life and something that puppet sometimes called procedural thinking and however when the research uh looked into whether this actually works with the goals actually met in the control tests were kind conflicted about the outcomes of children to necessarily leave with transferable skills and I'm coming from this type of approach and what it can fail to become a linchpin in IT education and I never accounted for example throughout my time in the schools in the UK and I should point out that I probably have an anglophone bias in this presentation I'm familiar with UK US education and not so much from other places in the world so what happened after that so we're to the 19 nineties and 2 thousands and
so we can drop the idea of teaching the logo pretty much dropped it and the goal is now to teach children to use common applications and so that learning to but typical apps like word processors spreadsheets databases in my final year IT projects and was to build a Microsoft Access
database with mail-merging would not a single a single line of code and then later on I took the CDL and anybody take the ACT EC-TEL allows the European Computer driving lessons and they're always gets a laugh and which certified me um that I could use microsoft products and who you think you would feel me and but still I think this article it's kind of a noble intent of after all children should be proficient in using these basic tools what processing and spreadsheets can be powerful and but it has to be admitted that it makes children rather passive users of computers and quite dependent on applications made by the wealthiest corporations of the planet and so we said OK let's not make the dowry kids passive users let's make an empowered control of computers that teach them to code let's do things like teach them programming languages like Python Python is a relatively friendly and programming language this given phone environments like scratch the would scratch tho it so and scratches and isn't much more is much more colorful and friendly and
sort of programming environment where the kids can at have almost dragon drop and snap little pieces of algorithms together and and they learn things like what if statements on while loops in the variable assignments and things like that and I like it in some respects it's some the goes back to the spirit of Seymour Papert project led project led found and dealing with concrete things rather than abstract ideas um but I also worry that it's not the whole story and then by itself is not gonna help an awful lot of stop going to do an awful lot to educate children and the for instance how to make sure we don't make the same mistakes as before where OK the kids may learn from the cost of waveforms misstatements and
but it doesn't do any given transferable skills at a given inspiring new ways to think about the world and so phrased in my own words you have to make sure it doesn't just teach but also educates and it turns out I'm not alone and when look into this I see a lot of writers as commentators from industry and education who am I have to agree with people making personal arguments and I should have a disclaimer here I'm not advocating that we take away the
code from the kids and I'm not saying that was how I stopped
teaching and I like that the kids are being taught code on a computer scientist like that and I just think there's a little bit missing and what's missing is connecting the coding with
problem solving so here as
a series of things which other commentators of sentinel summarized here for you and on 1 1 criticism which comes up again and again this is currently the best universal language in the year the right language to discuss these ideas and keep Bradford under the MIT Media Lab the research scientist points out
that the programming landscape is very broad and very very very complex there are hundreds of languages but of different levels of complexity to different paradigms different ways of programming is it really the best approach to choose 1 particular 1 of these I and can use that as the as the way into around the ideas behind programming and Gottfried
saying the CEO of mandates points out of the code is actually from the the end product of
this whole process and there's a whole lot more to the EEG signal in something like what I do and what programming computers to code and there's a lot more to and also we are instinctually visual creatures is it really best to use code to express
ideas maybe perhaps as conference and this as we should teach them how to visually expressed these ideas have officially expressed logic a kind of true dragon drop programming perhaps than good the another thing that it gets pointed out who is really benefiting from this idea of how to teach kids to code and and they'll dash who is CEO of Fall Creek Software argues that uh and teach kids code is being pushed by policymakers who for a large part of quite ignorant of technology and code is something they know about so that's what they push
button the however as I just mentioned a minute ago coding is not quite the same as coding that by coding the mean so let me by coating on the right you just writing the code but coding the the thing we we we take to mean that this over the entire activities of a program and a very small proportion of that is to do that you're writing code the what perhaps policymakers and don't realize is that and
good coding the actual activity occurring and type of profit programming and is less to do with coding then is to do with problem solving as a whole lot of pro problem-solving goes long before we like 1 line of code and in addition to that direction also says and argues that we are teaching the
teaching coding results in really an assembly line of programmers with a narrow set of skills which satisfy maybe good there's a big tackle this good for them but not so good for the rest of society and in other words we will we just end up creating code monkeys for some of the wealthiest most powerful companies on earth all paid for by you the taxpayer and so uncomfortable commentators here um who
who had discovered the most important I think of the criticisms to me said is that we have made it in the pop version of teaching coding and teaching the tool is easy so teach you how to do the coding has the easy part of the difficult part is and teaching the skills that behind the tool time the did Harrell also MIT
Media Lab and where she worked with Seymour Papert and has criticized that only teaching them how to count code as as as a cover shallow response time to the need for coaches it's an she argues it's important note deep skill and she refers to it as pop computing and until a of a developing writer say is that the coding has become a pop culture and which underestimates how hard it actually is and that all the hard part is learning to code hard part is learning the skills that come before the coding and the user and the metaphor which can spot where which is if I let musical notation does that mean that I understand how to write my own music or even understand how music works and I learned how to read music now in school but believe me on musician like I can hardly planned out and but there's a pattern
in all these criticisms which you keep seeing any stats and the these commentators at a calling for something additional don't teach just code they and teach the concepts in the problem solving skills behind the coding and again sought to live ago so is that programming requires an analytical thinking and problem solving attitude I will dash and teach computer can't teach computational thinking we need to ensure that young
people can understand the way the human cancer and translated into problems that computers can help to solve and we need and the teacher transferable way every line of work from farming to fashion to marketing can be improved by being deeply technologically literate it's possible to teach computer science and wayward and amplifies interests and ambitions that young people having any discipline and he tell says that yes millions of code up coders on today but it may be more valuable for any person belligerent in computational thinking OK so computational thinking this term keeps
coming up so and so what is it the I will
start with the and academic tradition with a definition that is part of the grammar schools academic so it's an approach to problem solving that's key
problem-solving to problem-solving method that uses key ideas from computer science for formulating solutions that could be executed by a computer could be this can also be executed by a person but they the they
can also be executed by the machine and go little bit deeper into to discuss what the key ideas is there of roughly in half a dozen a key idea is to computational thinking and summary of concepts and skills 1 is logic and algorithms this teaches the correct way to communicate with a computer there you can't
rely on humans telecommunications and because computers to have common sense you common sense in order to understand human communication um problem decomposition and this is the way of this is a strategy for tackling the problem and what you do is you take a look take a large problem which by itself is difficult or impossible to solve so you break it down into a series of smaller subproblems and of those sub-problems may be broken down further into social problems and so on and so on until at the end you have a kind of a tree of the problems and some problems and the ones at the very bottom of of the support of the subproblems which you think you can solve just in 1 go so we have as a kind of uh most likely that the task set of of things you need to do in order to solve your original problem from the top of the tree and the next thing is pattern recognition and this is what you do when you have broken down your problem into a lot of component parts and then you look for patterns among those parts and they have to simplify the eventual solution and they feed into the next part which is a generalisation abstractions it has patterns into into have the vocabulary of the solution and you may also make your solution your your um solution of applicable to other situations so you can reuse what you learn what you work out or you might spot something that was already done in the previous problem and you can reuse that in your solution and at this point you can start to model the solution in detail and and now you have something which you can code signatures only known you know at the end you have to get to to get the coding and want code that you then need skills to evaluate whether it
is actually a good solution note that did actually work is it correct is efficient to easy to use it's secure and so on no I don't have much time to go into detail of what in any of these uh entail in a lot of detail but I can go through a few examples just to give you a flavor as well do now and so 1 thing I do and example from algorithms which are done before with the people who have never program before the learning how to program and it's to get into the mode of thinking for how to write algorithms this subpoena button Johnson was going in about a jealous image if you're American but we use British English to the and so what you what you do is you ask
the students to write down instructions for how to make a peanut butter and jam regions we have the ingredients all lined up in a table of bread to jobs and I have place and they write
out some kind of solution it looks something like that so open the bread take it out but the peanut butter on the
bread and for the don't bread and so and then can have have fun with this because and you you told him beforehand that this is for a computer
and so you then take the solution and you behave you get a phone you get really pedantic and just follow the instructions really literally so when they say things like know open the breadth what just take the pocket President Richard apart or take a slice of bread and just written an open it like that or when you say put the peanut butter on the on the on the bread and a take a slice of bread and jam this dictate the people but Edgardo bring the red light that I once had a student at a chopping board 10 students that put the for the bread on the board and so took a piece of bread and put on the white board what that they can just have to have some fun with this to get really pedantic well my favorite things to do the pedantic and um and then you can kind the back and say OK you got a lot more precise
Korean much less ambiguous go to the it'll be algorithmic they can start to learn the difference between talking to a human and instructing a computer um amended this can be this can start to be translated to decode later on down the line but the exemplars pattern recognition from so to to take an example
of a a very simple example of building up an image that's a smiley face so you want to you 1 student to and build up a set of instructions
for drawing image was kind of its that's that's not trivial from there are multiple steps in this to break it down and they have to do the decomposition and that breaks down into several parts so it's income smiley face here and what and what it what you find is that OK that that's actually a very small number of of components to this there is a large circle for the face and 2 sets
of and pairs of circles what the eyes a big 1 for the outside and small and for the people and notice as a bit of looping in there so do this twice and not for the mouth and is an and that's that's an application of decomposition and pattern recognition and the and it connects then learn that they can up complexity from this they can reuse the same abstractions and to achieve similar
goals so whether it's sort of um a sad face they just adjusting on the
bemused face they can start using straight lines the face which looks suspiciously like a character of not careful you can use the same components the now these and the become the components of my faces but any kinds of
images not just faces them imagine the complexity of the build up and I think the time of of got them all I can do
is ask you to imagine that have been to tell a a lot of detail but I can and can't appetite maybe and get you to look at computational thinking a little more about it and then imagine imagine our children in armed
with predictable repeatable problem-solving approach that labels of children to learn how to think of problems in general abstract terms to build turn those into instructions to the computer can understand and
to realize that the key to handling problems is to break them down into solvable pieces rather than be overwhelmed by complexity just give up and to learn that this is a promising approach to problem solving is iterative you you have to there multiple births successive
versions of your attempts to solve problems and not only that but once they have a problem-solving approach like that it means that once they've come up with the solution it's ready to be plugged into technology and executed automatically it's like a plug and play solutions and so close to an
external uh of relatively young idea computational thinking it's has inspirations that go back quite a long way but it's certainly the ideas and around for about a decade and and as recently as the beginning of this decade to the whistle conferences
and the way how to determine exactly what computational thinking what's what it meant an and so it's it's a it's a fairly new
approach and as such I think we still need need to gather evidence on its efficacy with that really actually has the outcomes would like to have and we also need to make sure I think that it preserves the spirit of Seymour Papert and did somebody I forget the name uh rightly pointed out that maybe we're forgetting that as profits said we should emphasize playfulness should make it projects before problem which is to say that the children should have some concrete thing they want to achieve and and not some problem and imposed on them and not a problem and to do with abstracts things but more concrete things that they can you really get to grips with and so think we also need to still a little better on it's been described by some people and who have been pushing this idea as how to think like a computer scientist that is that that's not really very appealing to me I think to non-computer scientists and maybe it's not a very inviting as much as they hate you with the computer scientists the fact that it was says to me you with think like a lawyer
enough let's have ways quite good to me sometimes be and the like a lawyer but yeah so it to be a different way then and also I
think and 1 last thing we should do this and that it could be so granted imperialistic about it if you you read uh what some people trying to push the the uh that get you get the impression that all these ideas that originate in computer science without don't a of lot of the ideas come from outside computer science logic and modeling obstructions before they do not long before computer science and people do that in other fields and scientists to that engineers do that you know all sorts of different and the fields use the idea is that there were included in competition thinking and and
that's kind of an important become feeds into this final thought which is that and is this white applicability and and this is a quote from stephen wolfram who's on the computer scientist who
says that if you pick any field x mn archeology zoology there is no very
computational x or there soon will be and in other was the ability to think computationally is going to infiltrate a huge variety professions in future and so I
think that teaching it to the kids and is a good way to prepare this is something that and I'm very interested in as I mentioned earlier I just finished a book about this and if anybody wants to talk about that you know the graph me in present
day or you can find me on the virtual world I hang out in various places around your server was no more and we got in the habit of questions before movement in the
theft lumo minutes for questions any this can we meet in the middle I hindsight is is a very basic question that and friend like apes think it's best stagnant computational thinking I think there's no
reason why it cannot start in some form in primary schools fact and in the UK and that kind of does not computational thinking itself and if you use Google UK KIT
syllabus something like a curriculum sort and you should find and the 1st or 2nd result should be something like the the government's the
breakdown of was called in the UK key stages he stage 1 is intuitive to 7 Key Stage to which of the 2 11 he states reachable 214 think Key Stage 1 includes very basic things about algorithms and and the some of these ideas artist intuitive to them and not some of them are intuitive and so and I don't think there's any reason why we can start quantum requirement the is
maybe some is it something it's a bit salt in in a manner that being listened everywhere all so that only those it's only costs as a question
and I wouldn't imagine in it's 1 of these funny subjects which it's it's a kind of a universal thing and so it's difficult to put it in its own box if you like to do it applies to so many things in my instinctive moment with this is to say he gets its own subject on but maybe medicine has different ideas about that so 1 more minutes i put my question on how you know the situation probably in Great Britain the UK and I sometimes have the feeling that in Germany we
point to the PAC look they've doing an excellent way you that you an idea have with the British Computer
Society for a while now and they have a good and organization within the organization called computing at school cast
serious um and that kind of pushes these ideas of computing in schools in the UK but now started opening of Hobbes around the world and they just opened 1 in Berlin last year I worked with them and and that's why I want to stress that I know the UK and the US best but I know that Germany had its own problems with regards to IT education and I would you know works in setting up the scope and perhaps 1 verse not recommend situational more about this and the and and we can Ackerman hope I pronounced that right here as she's in charge of the caste Golden House and if you are familiar with problems in Germany IT education and the expert um In the UK it's it's expressed centralized the curriculum a set and it applies to the whole system the whole country and I went through that in Germany and my brain might be to my knowledge it's the case that its state by state and it's sometimes school by school how they teach IT and which can you can it on 1 hand may be very very good IT education or you may get well maybe schools no IT teachers and if a school wanted THAT they have to and you want to volunteer in the train and some some IT and then and then they can teach kids and so there are challenges for their religion so thank you all for coming in
thank you have each of which
has all but all being wooed
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Metadaten

Formale Metadaten

Titel Teach our kids to code? No, teach them how to think
Serientitel re:publica 2017
Autor Beecher, Karl
Lizenz CC-Namensnennung - Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 3.0 Deutschland:
Sie dürfen das Werk bzw. den Inhalt zu jedem legalen Zweck nutzen, verändern und in unveränderter oder veränderter Form vervielfältigen, verbreiten und öffentlich zugänglich machen, sofern Sie den Namen des Autors/Rechteinhabers in der von ihm festgelegten Weise nennen und das Werk bzw. diesen Inhalt auch in veränderter Form nur unter den Bedingungen dieser Lizenz weitergeben.
DOI 10.5446/33000
Herausgeber re:publica
Erscheinungsjahr 2017
Sprache Englisch

Inhaltliche Metadaten

Fachgebiet Informatik
Abstract A debate rages right now over whether we should be teaching every kid to code. While a noble idea, history tells us that won't be very effective. Code is merely the means to implement an idea. Kids first need to learn how to properly form ideas computationally. After all, you've got to walk before you can run. This session will argue why computational thinking aims to become not only an essential problem-solving skill, but as an essential way to understand life in the 21st century.

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