It is now widely accepted that the process of learning
computer programming can greatly benefit a child’s intellectual and cognitive
development. Seymour Papert, author of Mindstorms, captured the essence of what
programming skills bring to the young mind when he wrote:
‘Many children are held back in their learning because they have a model of learning in which you have either ‘got it’ or ‘got it wrong.’ But when you programme a computer you almost never get it right the first time. Learning to be a master programmer is learning to become highly skilled at isolating and correcting bugs ... The question to ask about the programme is not whether it is right or wrong, but if it is fixable. If this way of looking at intellectual products were generalized to how the larger culture thinks about knowledge and its acquisition we might all be less intimidated by our fears of ‘being wrong.’’
Children are usually aware of the power of computer programming and are avid consumers of it in the form of computer games. Our aim is to lift the veil on the magic of games and smartphones and teach how algorithms are constructed to deliver the end results children see every day. Using Scratch and Python as educational tools, we demystify programming, at the same time explaining foundation concepts such as binary and other numeral systems and working through how a computer actually operates.
Most children aged 7 to 11 will already be familiar with Scratch, however instead of teaching them the programming environment of Scratch we go further and, using games as a learning tool, teach them all the major programming constructions and how to compose effective algorithms. We also cover 3D modelling and run fun activities to encourage computational thinking.
For children aged 11 to 16 we provide courses on the syntax and semantics of Python and its application through to writing complex programmes. We also run courses on Web Design (HTML/CSS, Java Script, image processing and logo development).
The aim of our courses is to convert children from consumers of computer programmes into creators who understand how a computer works and how to make it work for them instead of just knowing how to work a computer.
We provide an environment where students develop essential 21st century learning skills that will be critical to their success in the future: thinking creatively, communicating clearly, analysing systematically, collaborating effectively, designing iteratively and learning continuously. We teach students to develop a deeper level of fluency with digital technology and to become creators, not just users.
Our aim is to make our classes enjoyable at the same time as being educational. We also help children see the connection between programming and maths and use the excitement created by programming to drive a deeper interest in mathematical problem solving.
From a practical perspective, we note that the US Bureau of Labour Statistics projects that there will be one million unfilled jobs for programmers in the U.S. by 2020. This is because the more software and hardware humans create, the more jobs in software will exist, driven by new platforms like smartphones and robots as they spawn their own software ecosystems. At the London School of Mathematics and Programming we are delighted to be giving children a head start for such a valuable future role.
Ahead of enrolment we discuss with parents each child’s needs to make sure they attend the appropriate class or classes. Please call us to discuss this further.