Recently I have come across a slightly different view of programming. In this view, programming is used as a way of learning Mathematics and other topics.
The premise of books in the Think X series is that if you know how to program, you can use that skill to learn other topics.
from Think Bayes by Allen B. Downey.
I see programming as a way of learning Mathematics.
Recently, several countries have included basic programming in the national curriculum. In some of these countries (such as Estonia and France) programming is placed in direct curricular connection to mathematics, whereas in others (England, and Sweden) programming is related more to a design and engineering agenda. However, in all cases the focus is not on developing general “humanistic” skills with technology, rather it is on thinking in algorithms, writing programs, and developing technology. In other countries such curricular changes are being discussed and tested on a small scale. Hence, it makes sense to take a closer look at the arguments that have previously been proposed for utilising programming in mathematics education.
from Learning Mathematics through Programming
This is a fascinating concept. If we believe in it (after looking at various case studies), teaching kids programming may be a good move. I always thought of programming as a way of thinking and solving problems.
There was a course on Coursera called “Coding the Matrix: Linear Algebra through Computer Science Applications”. But I am not able to locate it now.
I was talking to a group of faculty members at KCG Tech on why we should ask schools to host An Hour of Code.
The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.
Here are some reasons why you should be interested in hosting an hour of code or help schools to host it.
- This grassroots campaign is supported by over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide.
- It is an international movement to get people interested in learning to code.
- The first step in teaching programming is to get the learner engaged. Next steps include creating curiosity and giving them a sense of wonder. Show them what they can do with the code in a few minutes.
- Students will do something different and have a lot of fun while learning. In the past couple of instances where we conducted an hour of code, many 7th graders went beyond the hour, refusing to leave the computer lab.
- The program will be run mostly by student volunteers and techies. We are trying to get students involved in social causes. We believe the best form for students to learn, is by teaching.
I have been thinking about a new initiative on Teaching Kids. It is driven by several (self) discoveries.
- I am slowly discovering that I love teaching. But I constantly fight for student’s attention and keeping my teaching interesting and useful.
- A few experiments with a Social Causes Club at KCGTech convinced me that we can help kids a lot.
- I have always been interested in how people learn and how people think It is a fascinating area of research and exploration.
- Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence and Seymour Papert’s Mindstorms had deep influence on my thinking about Intelligence, Learning and the role of Play.
- As a parent I was clueless about the best way to help my kids learn. I just did whatever my parents did to encourage me. Now thanks to the World Wide Web and enormous resources available, we can all learn a lot more about learning to learn.
- Kids need help. So do parents, grandparents, extended families and teachers.
- Technology innovation in Tablets, Speech, Cloud Computing, Natural Language Processing enable phenomenal access. We need to find ways of leveraging technologies to make learning fun.
- I strongly resonate with Tim O’Reilly’s Work on Stuff That Matters. I think helping people learn better will help make the world a better place.
So hear is what I am doing.
- Invested a few dollars in getting some domain names (always my first step) – Moms as Teacher, Dads as Teachers and Family As Teachers. I started with Moms as teachers first and then decided that I need to get the entire family in.
- Created a Facebook group Resources for Teaching Kids and invited a couple of parents.
- Doing some research on Learning Apps for Kids. Here is a good starting point on a list of free learning apps.
- Checking out MIT Scratch and App Inventor
- Started a couple of student projects on learning apps
- Initiated some research on understanding the marketplace
There is a lot more to do. I think I will first start with gathering and sharing information about learning tools for students, families and teachers that are available freely.
If you are interested in this area and are a parent, grandparent or a teacher, consider joining the Facebook group Resources for Teaching Kids and share your knowledge and opinions.