Programming hasn’t really been taught well in UK schools, and that seems like an oversight, particularly when such a vast segment of getting on in the modern world can actually end up being about making computers do things. Hell, as someone who dabbles in both website publishing and development, I know just how useful programming is, how important that makes programmers as individuals, and how helpless I feel when I can’t tackle a programming problem. These skills make robots work, make the internet a thing, and make our precious games crackle with magic fire. So Code Club, an attempt to get after-school coding clubs into UK primary schools (for the 9-11 age group) is something I – and the rest of RPS – wholeheartedly support. This is the lowdown: “Code Club works by connecting programmers with their local schools and providing them with a set of projects to teach for an hour a week in an after-school club setting.”
I post this because I wish I had learned programming when I was a child. Read my quick chat with organiser Clare Sutcliffe, as well as a video overview of the project, below.
RPS: Why do kids need to learn to code at such a young age?
Sutcliffe: There are some really valuable lessons to be learnt from programming. Children learn how to solve problems and how to break complex projects into smaller more manageable tasks.
It’s also about teaching children that they have the power to change the environment around them by designing the programmes they use for themselves.
RPS: That makes sense. I mean, much of our contemporary environment seems to consist in screens… But why don’t schools already teach programming?
Sutcliffe: Technology moves very quickly so it’s very difficult for governments to keep their curriculum up to date. Even so, the UK government has been particularly slow in responding to the pace of change. Apparently there is new curriculum being planned that include programming but this isn’t due for a year or so.
RPS: What can RPS readers do to get kids learning code?
Sutcliffe: Well they can get as many schools involved with Code Club as possible by telling them about it and pointing them in the direction of the code club website www.codeclub.org.uk If RPS readers would like to volunteer at their local school they can find out more information on the volunteers page of our website.
RPS: What can code-illiterate parents do to help kids learn coding at home?
Sutcliffe: They can introduce them to Scratch. It’s a great place to start learning the basic concepts without having to write any syntax. There are also some other great resources such as Mozilla’s webmaker series including thimble, Khan Academy, Codecademy. These will guide you though coding exercises.
If you are a gaming parent, you should support it too. Hell, they’re looking for volunteers to help out with the clubs in schools around the country. The website with all the details is here.