We watch the world around us change at an ever-increasing pace and we worry - not so much for ourselves as for our children: What will their world be when they grow up? How will they be able to not only survive, but actually thrive?!
We see how the job market and the economy is changing more and more rapidly. We are mostly able to keep up ourselves, but what about our children?
What can we do to ensure their resilience and adaptability, and to maximize their future happiness and well being?
As our childrens' first teacher, we want to give them the best skills possible in life. In an ever-changing world, that skill is actually the ability to learn.
When you are put in a novel situation, the first think you do is try to understand how "things work" around you. You try to grasp a basic understanding of mechanisms and possibilities, and then you attempt to apply your understanding through actions. This is learning.
The faster and better you are able to learn, the more successful you will be in any situation or endeavor.
This is the skill we wish to impart to our children.
Learning to program as a skill is well and good. The world is after all, becoming constantly more computerized. And so to be able to interact with and control computers is a valuable basic skill. And it might even lead to a career down the road. But that is not the main reason you would want your child to learn programming.
A more important reason might be creativity. Yes, believe it or not programming is more similar to painting than to engineering! Sure, you need some basic technical understanding before you can create anything. A painter must learn about brush techniques, paints and materials, and color and light. But once some basics are mastered, the real challenge quickly becomes what to create, and how to create it.
Imagine being able to create anything you can think of more or less out of thin air!
And then there is problem solving. Now if that isn't a valuable skill, I don't know what is!
You have the tools you need. You know what you want to create. But how to create it?!
Given a complex problem, how might you break it down into smaller solvable parts? And then, as you develop solutions to these small sub-problems, how do you piece them back together again into a complete and functioning whole?
Can you think of situations in real life where this might be a useful skill to have?
This may sound like a technical term. But it really isn't. Basically "debugging" is simply the skill of figuring out why something isn't working the way one expects through a series of trial and error - doing small experiments repeatedly until one understands and corrects the issue at hand.
Debugging can be applied to any area or skill in life - sports, art, communication and relationships, job-hunting, business. You name it.
But the most important aspect of "debugging" is shifting the child's mindset from one of "Right or wrong." to one of "This isn't what I expected, so what can I change to get the outcome I want."
To the degree you are willing to explore programming together with your child - and act as a "fellow explorer" through this maybe unfamiliar terrain - you will hugely influence your child's future abilities and possibilities for the future.
All it takes is for you to sit down a few minutes with your child now and again, and help them, challenge them, praise them.
To work with George, your child should probably be 8 years old or older - or at least able toe read and write a little bit.
You need a computer running Windows or Mac.
And you need a few minutes to prepare - read a few paragraphs, and perhaps try out a couple of things on your own.
The simplest way is to check out the book. It will guide you through the process - starting with downloading the program (which is free), and then taking you through how to run your first commands, and on to gradually creating art, games, and more advanced programs.
The first chapter of the book is in fact free, so you can get started immediately, and at absolutely no risk.
"I don't know how to program."
Well, neither do most of the teachers who use George to teach programming to their students. The teacher section is written for teachers who mainly have never done any programming, but would like to learn as they go, and be a "fellow explorer" and guide for their students. You can do the same.
"My child can't read/write in English."
That is fine. They will learn a few basic words as they go, but pre-existing knowledge of English is not a prerequisite. And as you are able to read this text, you will be able to help them just fine.
"My child is already learning programming in school."
Great! If they are already using George at school, then working with it at home will simply deepen and strengthen your child's understanding and abilities. If you now follow the same progression as your child's teacher, then the teacher will adapt to your child's increased progression. And if they are using something else at school, then there is sure to be some degree of overlap which will positively influence in both directions.
Please, if you have started using George with your child, and have any questions of feedback og experiences you would like to share, don't hesitate to send me an e-mail. (see bottom of page).
I would love to here from you.