She asked for more ukeleles.
At our Parent Council Meeting last week, the principal brought a funding request to the Council from the music teacher. She wanted money to buy more ukeleles.
I get that music is important. I get that sharing ukeleles in a crowded class of 9 yr olds is not conducive to a positive teaching environment. But .. ukeleles? Listen to the drum beat in the distance. It’s not a snare or a bongo or some cool tribal drum. It’s the echoing call for kids needing to learn how to code.
“Children aged from 5-11 have so much potential for learning about algorithms and computation that it would be a shame to wait until they are teenagers before we teach them the foundations…The most obvious argument, of course, is economic: Demand for software developers already far outstrips supply, and it’s expected to increase 30 percent by 2020 — more than double the average for all other jobs. ” – [Wired]
Music has its place – as an elective. Coding, computer skills, and learning to program needs to be mandatory. Lessons on how to build web pages, social media ethics, and privacy are eternally more useful than learning Twinkle Twinkle on the recorder or Tiptoe Through The Tulips on the ukelele.
Our school has hired a choral instructor. Kids in Grade 3 and 4 will get a few hours a week of choral training. This is at a public school with a focus on French and Spanish immersion. It’s not a religious school. It’s not an arts school. It’s not a music school. It’s a language school that will be teaching kids how to.. sing.
Sorry, but that is not a necessary life skill. Coding, proper internet usage, savvy searching, copyright lessons, how to write, webpage markup, proper visual layout, privacy advcoacy.. now those are some life skills I can get behind.
So, with a vacuum at the school level, parents are being forced to pick up the slack and have coding be the extra curricular elective instead of music.
Here’s how you can get your kids into coding:
This game can get kids thinking like a programmer as early as 4 years old. Light-Bot is a smartphone app that has kids solving logic puzzles to learn programming. “Light-bot lets players gain a practical understanding of basic control-flow concepts like procedures, loops, and conditionals, just by guiding a robot with commands to light up tiles and solve levels.”
You don’t even need a computer to teach kids to code. Robot Turtles is a board game that raised 25x its goal in a Kickstarter campaign. The board game teaches programming concept to kids as they move turtles around the board. Unfortunately the game was a limited edition and is sold out.
CODE FOR KIDS
Code For Kids is a 2 – 3 hour event aimed to teach children aged 7-12 the basics of coding, technology, and design. It is held every few months. Sign up for a session and see if your kids are interested. It’s a great way to dip their toe in.
The programming collective, Pluralsight, has free coding classes for kids teaching them Scratch and C+. They promise that “in a short time, kids can visually grasp the basics of how programming languages work and they can create fun computer games. Scratch teaches the general skills and principles to be successful in just about any programming language, yet it’s fun and intuitive.”
TRY OUT TYNKER
Tynker is a course that was presented for schools to use and is now available as a $50 self-guided computer programming course targeted for Grades 4-8.
The Codecademy is a great resource to find courses, games, and ideas to help your kids learn computer concepts at any age. 4, 8, 12, they have modules and ideas for every interest and experience level. The important thing for this organization is to get the tools of the future into the hands of kids so they’re prepared, even if schools aren’t making them so.
Image via iStockPhoto