I’ve been preparing to set up coding clubs next year at the elementary and middle schools where I work. I’ve taken an interest in coding throughout all of my research and preparation. It’s reminded me of the time in college where I briefly wondered if I should have majored in computer science instead of education. At the time, it was just a random thought, and not one I entertained seriously. It’s been more on my mind lately though.
I know that to teach coding to the students who join the clubs that I’m going to need to know some basics. I have curriculum for both Code.org and Scratch, but that’s not going to cover me when students ask questions. I’m going to need to know some basics, as my passion for getting these students interested in coding and programming isn’t going to cut it. I need more. I need to learn myself. The surprising part of this is how much the thought excites me. Part of me wonders if this could lead to a new career path down the road, or even just some freelance work. I don’t plan on leaving the education field soon, as I need to be in the public service sector until the last of my loans are paid off in 2023. I fall under the loan forgiveness program, so all I hope is that Congress doesn’t do anything to change that particular program between now and then.
But I digress.
As I have completed more and more research, I keep thinking that this is something I want to learn myself. I want to try it out and see what I can do with it. There’s nothing to stop me from learning except myself and whatever fears I could come up with. Last year I took guitar for the first time in my life. Before that, I had never played an instrument in my life, not even recorder as a kid in music class. I knew nothing about reading music (still don’t, since my teacher uses a modified Suzuki method). It was an interesting year. Learning guitar wasn’t easy, and yet, I kept at it. At first, it seemed like I’d never learn Amazing Grace or Country Roads. Yet, I did. Or at least, decently learned to play them both. I love playing, though I don’t always practice enough. It’s a slow skill to acquire, and I keep working at it. Now I’m finally able to start learning the songs I want to learn instead of the beginner ones that were set up to get me started.
I feel that coding will be the same way in a sense. It’s going to be harder at first. There’s a lot to learn and read over. There’s a lot of beginner stuff to move through before I can hope to do anything more difficult. On top of all that, there are so many languages to choose from, each with their own difficulties. I’m gonna struggle and it’s gonna feel like failure at times, but I can do it.
I know I’ll be working on basic Java when I’m with the students, and I’ll be doing the Code.org curriculum this summer to begin preparing for using it with them. Even my middle schoolers will start with that curriculum before we move onto Scratch. I wanted to do something different for myself though. I don’t know why. I may have just wanted a different challenge. At any rate though, I decided to learn Python. It’s supposed to be pretty easy to learn overall, and a bit easier than other programming languages.
I’ve picked up the book Python for Kids and have started studying that. I understand the first bits of it with the order of operations. I want to work through this book, and I’m also considering taking a course on Python through Coursera. The one I was looking at gets good reviews, and I think it would be a fun course to take. Hey, it’s free, and if I want to get better, I can use all the help I can get. It’s exciting to think about learning how to code and program. It’s scary too, but it’s good to keep on pushing forward and learning something new. I never want to feel as though I’m stagnating as an adult. Just because I have my degrees does not mean I’m ever done learning, nor am I too old. I just have to keep pushing forward.