Friday, July 3, 2015

Creativity, Coding, and the Adolescent Mind

Matt asked me this week what I thought about the Hour of Code. I answered honestly that I simply do not think it is enough. He continued to make the point that it was a good introduction, I think I made a face.

The bottom line is that introduction is not enough. My analogy is the arts. In the arts we take students to the museum, we believe that it is important, but it does not constitute a curriculum in the arts. If we look at the analogy of the arts even further it can get even more interesting. As I read some of Austin Kleon this week some of his points resonated with me. Young children will create art without reservation when you ask them or even on their own. Wait a few years, by middle school, they will refuse to create saying something like- "I am not an artist" or "I am not creative". This reaction is not a mistake, it is a natural consequence of creating self-concept in different areas. As students mature and acquire experiences they learn what they are good at and what they are less so. Social comparisons play a big role in this development. So by the time they are in middle school most children develop a sense of what they are good at.

The point here is that if we want students to become coders or artists they need rich experiences of mastery and growth in that domain. If they will have them at the elementary years they will have a much higher chance of having a positive self-concept for art and coding leading to a higher probability they will stay engaged.

Hour of code will not create self-concepts of students as artists nor coders, only making it part of school will!

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