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  • Heather Blackbird

Coding in All Schools and Grades


When I was in 1st grade, Mrs. Hathaway taught us how to write our letters on the paper with big wide solid lines with the broken lines in between. The paper was very thin and ripped if you tried to erase anything.


A and a and B and b, over and over and on and on. She drew a smiley face on the paper when I could pull off some really clean letters and I went home feeling like a giant.


Do kids still do that in 1st grade?


It's been about 10 years since my kids were in 1st grade, but as teenagers they write on computers and on their phones. They make up new words with no vowels to be quicker and define their experience.


I know they never had to practice writing lines of code. Why not?


The writing practice we did was so that we could know how to write to each other, about the world, participate in it, change it, make it.


Code writing practice is what kids need now. They need the writing too, but it doesn't mean they can't learn coding as well.


There are some electives here and there and sometimes in some schools there are AP classes where kids get to take a crack at it. There are some schools that take it more seriously and offer it as a part of a math curriculum or a project. But's not a standard that every student is required to complete.


Why not?


With any system that seeks to implement change there are a lot of reasons and challenges.


One reason is that there aren't enough teachers that know how to do it.


But there could be.


These days we are reaching out to Media and Library Teachers as our access point to students and bringing coding education to Middle Schools, in addition to Computer Science teachers in High Schools, but it's a steep climb. Teachers are busy, overworked and reluctant to adopt new technology unless administrations are behind it. Administrators are reluctant to vet and choose new curriculum and fully embrace the project of making coding a requirement.


Parents are typically bananas about getting coding in their child's school.


We talked to one Middle School teacher last week that was overjoyed with what we have: built in curriculum that supports middle schoolers in diving into text-based coding? And supports the teacher every step of the way? What's not to love?


I did learn to write with practice. With over and over again and encouragement and small goals. It's a solid model and Mrs. Hathaway's patience and methodology helped me. I love to see students come to Blackbird Code and practice and learn and feel like giants. I can't wait until more of them get to do it.


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