Leading a youth coding movementBy Coder Dojo
There is a growing consensus among policymakers and educationalists that we need to do more to encourage children to create, rather than just consume, digital media. It turns out the kids might be a step ahead in this already, and none more so than the kids within the CoderDojo movement: the network, which currently consists of 550 clubs that have been spontaneously springing up everywhere from Belgium to Madagascar in the past few years.
CoderDojo is a volunteer-led movement of free and not-for-profit youth coding clubs. Dojos are self-organising clubs where 7 to 17 year olds can drop in to learn how to code, build websites, apps and programmes.
18-year-old James Whelton started the first Dojo in June 2011 after he was besieged with requests for coding classes from younger kids who’d seen him hack an iPod Nano at school. Whelton joined forces with Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Liao to scale the movement from its origins in the Irish city of Cork — a Dublin Dojo was quickly formed, and an average of 20,000 kids and young people participate in Dojos around the world, on a weekly basis.
The network is very ‘open-source’: there’s no set syllabus to follow, after you’ve established the very basics using a simple programming language such as Scratch, founders (‘champions’ in Dojo lingo) can build classes based on their own interests. The accent is on supporting students (‘ninjas’) in their projects, and for kids to mentor each other: to stimulate peer-learning and creative problem solving.
‘The right thing to do is empower a generation of kids to learn these skills in a sociable environment. You see, it’s not just about the coding, it’s also about learning to work and create with others. It’s a community,’ says Liao. And if there’s no Dojo near you, you can just set one up yourself — the CoderDojo Foundation suggests approaching local corporates as venues since they are often empty in the evenings and have charge-points.
Image 'CoderDojo Firenze #2' courtesy of CoderDojo Firenze
Last updated: 02nd of July, 2014