We at Stichting NewTechKids savour the challenge of teaching kids computational thinking through computer science and technological literacy education.
Different kids have different learning styles. Our focus is taking that knowledge and developing new pedagogies, didactics and teaching approaches as well as curriculum and lessons.
Our Google RISE-supported 21st Century Skills Clubs in Amsterdam Southeast are important research and development environments for us. Our classes are 50% girls, 50% boys with the kids coming from mostly minority, low income families. Almost all of them have no previous exposure to computer science and programming.
Most of our other after-school programs attract kids from more affluent backgrounds who have already attended coding classes and whose parents actively encourage them to engage with technology.
These differences in students don’t matter. Because what we see in our students, including those in Amsterdam Southeast, is the same: curiosity, engagement and a willingness to try, experiment and learn.
We have had to adapt our curriculum and develop new lessons to give our students in Amsterdam Southeast a solid foundation to understand core computer science concepts such as algorithms, commands, programming and automation. We’re integrating much more technological literacy to show them the link between what they learn in class and the technology which surrounds them in everyday life.
We’re including a stronger emphasis on design processes and rapid prototyping to help them become comfortable working with tangible objects and expressing their creativity. (Many of these kids have never built anything or played with LEGO or other building blocks.) And, no different than the other students we teach, we are challenging them to work in teams to learn how to collaborate and communicate effectively with each other.
Some day, and hopefully soon, computational thinking, computer science and technological literacy will be mandatory subjects in primary schools around the world.
Just teaching these subjects is not enough. We as educators need to learn how to teach these subjects effectively so that all students, regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status or learning challenges, are prepared to navigate a world full of technology and perhaps become innovators and inventors.