The purpose of this initiative is to reach as many children as possible.
By sending instructors out to work in class rooms on a weekly basis, we make the barrier to entry for teacher and schools very low.
The software is free, and the instruction is free of charge for the schools.
The school will need to provide the computers for the children:
And also a projector which the instructor can connect to.
At present the initiative is targeted at children ages 8 to 11. 8 is the absolute lowest age, as they will need to be able to read and write and do some basic arithmetic.
One instructor together with one teacher can handle 10 children well, and even as many as 20 children. But a third or even fourth assistant is very useful as the group approaches 20 or more in size.
The group should preferably not be mixed ages. There is a huge difference in tempo and progression between an 8 year old and even a 10 year old child.
No prior programming knowledge is required by the teacher. The instructor will lead the sessions, and the teacher will easily learn and understand everything as they go, but with a much higher precision than the children, and will therefore immediately be able to assist the instructor, and at the same time go on a journey of discovery together with the children.
Will for the most part be IT professionals, who receive training and support, knowledge of pedagogy and methodology, and teaching materials. As much as possible of accumulated knowledge and materials will be made available online. It is continually updated and developed.
At present (spring of 2017) we are rolling out the initiative in the Gothenburg area. In the fall of 2017 we intend to expand to Stockholm and Malmö area.
It is important that this be done in schools for a number of reasons, including:
Regularity: The key to skill acquisition is regular practice. By exposing children to programming on a weekly basis, we ensure their gradual growth and development over a period of months and years.
Reach: By including this as part of the school curriculum, we ensure the all children have equal access - across gender, ethnic groups, and socio-economic background.
The children will learn Turtle Geometry - a tried and true pedagogical programming concept developed by Seymour Papert et al at MIT - and extensively researched and applied in a variety of implementations.
The implementation used in George is based on a modern-day real-world programming language - thereby making possible continuous growth; from basic turtle commands, all the way to professional programming.
And while the children are seemingly "just" learning programming, what they are really learning is much more profound:
And along the way, they will also pick up a few words of English, a bit of math, spacial and geometric "feel", and more.
At present, the program is in effect in 3 schools, with another 5 ready to start in March. In April we may take in an additional 8 schools. We are working to match schools with instructors. Interested schools will be kept informed as we progress.
In March, we will also start to develop a teacher training initiative. More on that later.
Are you a school in the Gothenburg area that would like have an instructor come to you? Or are you an IT professional that would like to work with children for 1-2 hours per week?
Please send an e-mail directly to: Terje Dahl