15 Apr 2013

Mentors

Author: will | Filed under: CoderDojo, LBC

I suspect that I’m unusual in the LBC in that I’m childless.
Having said that, I’ve ended up working with kids thanks to CoderDojo.

And if its something they are interested in, they learn fast.
I suspect the secret to teaching kids something complicated, is the same as getting a game to work well… ramp up to a small win very quickly, then you are given the permission to grind through the hard parts.

Let them make something they can see very quickly, and then, then, you can move on to showing them how to make something else.

For example, I’m introducing my current crop to HTML5 sprite animation (thank you +Rob Stocker for the sprite sheets), and the quick win was getting the sprite on the screen, no animation, but showing them how, by hand coding, they can change which sprite shows up. Automating the changing images is how to create an animation.

But these kids are sponges. They learn fast. Show then one application of the technology, and they will try to apply it elsewhere.

And as I returned to CoderDojo Mahon recently (they have the room for computer parts to plunder), I was slightly surprised to discover that there were no adult mentors. There were adults, the parent mentors were there, but the ones teaching we all kids themselves; the ones I started teaching.

And one of them moved his ideas sideways, and this 13 year old was teaching android app development to a bunch of 10 year olds (and a few 16 year olds trying to keep their heads down).

Teach a young dog new tricks, and she will go on to teach the older dogs, like the example below.

Embedded Link

A special picture – CoderDojo
This is a very special picture, because it is indicative of the heart of the CoderDojo philosophy. I received it a few months ago from a mother at the NSC CoderDojo in Cork. It was…

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the theme of “Kids”.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.

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9 Responses to “Mentors”

  1. James Crook Says:

    This is awesome.  

    When are you next in Dublin Will?

  2. Will Knott Says:

    That's a difficult answer, which is going to email

  3. John Looney Says:

    Great shot Will. LBC?

    Really inspiring. Also let me know when you are up this way. Long time between visits…

  4. Will Knott Says:

    Loose Bloggers Consortium. It a way to ensure that I actually blog

  5. Grannymar Says:

    @John Looney, LBC stands for Loose Bloggers Consortium, a small group of us who write on the same subject each Friday. That fella Will Knott likes to keep us waiting! ;)

    Only teasing, Will, great post and I could do with that young ladies help. I wonder if I could borrow her for a month?

  6. Delirious Says:

    Kids just have a natural feel for computers. It must be how they are trained in school, but they seem to instinctively know how computers work, and they take to computer activities easily!

  7. Rummuser Says:

    I am sorry I am coming so late Will, But the delay is worth it for the wonderful post. Yes, I know exactly what it feels like to be among modern children as I try and get as much time with them as possible within my family and neighbourhood. Their proficiency with the computer/devices world is simply mind blowing.

  8. Will Knott Says:

    Grannymar, MJ (Matt Johnson) does CoderDojo in Belfast. While each Dojo is a different animal, I think you might be able to at least visit and ask.

    Delirious and Rummuser… it isn’t instinct and its not proficiency. Its lack of fear and a little bit of obsession. And protection in a safe place…

    I heard an interview with a programmer talking about his time at school. The geek weren’t going to inherit the earth then, they were more likely to get a few fists in the face. It sounded like a cross between tall poppy syndrome and a queer-bashing.

    You’re different so you’ll have to pay.

    I’m hearing stories of kids hiding their ability at school in the states so as not to attract attention. (looking for the link). The Dojo is a safe place to show that you’re smart. Heck, its something rewarded.

    I don’t know if its needed in Ireland, but the end effect, smart talented adults, is.

  9. Maxi Says:

    Love this post, Will. Brings to mind the skills of my 8yr-old granddaughter. Amazing how fast kids learn when it’s fun.
    blessings ~ maxi

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