Saturday, 2 March 2013

Creators not just consumers....

Here in 8C we believe strongly in the power of computers to enable young people to be creators, not just consumers. As a result, last night I went with a student to the opening of the Rails Girls Christchurch sessions. I had the pleasure of watching a 9-year-old create a simple programme where she manipulated text strings and created simple variables to manipulate. Not ground-breaking stuff at all but what really excites me is the enthusiasm young people can get from being in charge of these simple creations.

I am thrilled that in this world, where computers can do all these amazing things as the touch of a button or the wink of an eye, that creating very simple programs from scratch still is still exciting. My first introduction to computers was as a teenager when I was between study, at a loose end, and not knowing anything about computers took a job in a computer shop. This was back in the days when the latest and greatest was the Commodore 64, an 8-bit computer with 64-kilobytes of memory! I never sold many computers during my time there but did have great fun hanging out with the students from the local alternative school who used to come in and spend hours writing in BASIC and making their own games. (No wonder we never sold anything - anyone else was way too intimidated to come into the shop!)

I am thrilled that the excitement that these guys (because they were all boys) got from making their games is still replicated in our students. Even though their digital world is much more flashy and exciting, we believe the pleasure that one gets from creating something, from scratch, for themselves is more important than all the bells and whistles available. It doesn't have to be flash, it doesn't even have to be overly cool ...... but the power of being able to say that, "I made this all by myself," cannot be underestimated.

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