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Inspiring the next generation of coders

Any developer will tell you one of the most satisfying things about programming is that moment when the code works, and what started as an idea in your head is now a reality. Lately I’ve been discovering the equally rewarding experience of helping a young beginner programmer experience that for first time in their life. This is a new world we live in where computer literacy is as important as mathematics or science – and if we have to do it why can’t it be fun?

The key to helping anyone learn anything is getting them excited about the idea of learning it in the first place. The old idea of forcing a child to sit through a set of exercises and learn by rote is flawed and can even have a negative effect on creativity and critical thinking. I’m helping to run a Code Club at Breens Intermediate in Christchurch and some of the best moments I’ve seen are when the kids realised what they were doing could go further than the specific exercise they were working on. Something’s clicked and they’ve realised ‘hey, I could make a game where…’ or ‘this would be really cool for my history project if I…’. The technology and the learning started being about them and what they wanted to achieve. Their ideas started to become a reality.

I think that anyone can take advantage of this. Learning new things can be hard or daunting and it’s easy to resist change. But if you can get excited about what you could do if you mastered it or what new path it might lead you down, before you know it you are stuck right into the details.

So how do you get kids excited about learning technology and programming? As I mentioned earlier I think it is all about fostering the natural human desire to learn and create new things. If you can encourage a child to come up with an idea that they can own and want to see come to fruition, then you’ve already done most of the work. After that it’s just about guidance and encouraging the next idea – and the next one, and so on.

This whole experience has reinforced my love of the excitement and passion that’s available in the technology industry. Everyone can have a place – whether they’re analytic, social or creative, and whether they’re an adult or just 10 years old. It’s a great thing when a child develops a new passion that lasts a lifetime. Given how much we IT professionals get out of this industry, why not get out there and grow some young colleagues?

If you want to start a Code Club visit the Code Club Aeoteroa website.

Another great programme for getting out into schools and inspiring kids is FutureInTech.

If you are already part of some initiatives in your community please comment below and tell us about it!

Posted by: Seth Reid, Developer, Modern Applications | 30 June 2015

Tags: Developers

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