If You Want to Inspire the Next Generation of Creators, Start With Their Teachers. By: Topaz Glazer Earlier this year, The B.C. government unveiled an important plan to introduce computational thinking and coding for K-12 school curriculum. Today, we are thrilled to announce our partnership with Kids Code Jeunesse and BC’s Ministry of Education to provide coding education to grades 6-9 across the province! We have been commissioned to work in conjunction with BC’s Ministry of Education to design the supportive student and teacher materials for the new Applied Design, Skills and Technologies (ADST) curriculum. This includes designing the content and executing training programs to provide teachers with the tools and resources required to effectively deliver the ADST content. Read the full release here. Why coding and computational thinking? It is no secret that at Lighthouse Labs, we have strong opinions about the importance of coding education. Our belief is that computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone, not just for computer scientists. Computational thinking is not a subject; it's an intellectual competency like critical thinking, creativity and problem solving. It compliments digital literacy in the same way creativity does for art, music or dance. Not everyone needs to learn code and become a computer engineer, but we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to create, explore and learn through code. Over the past three years, we’ve been involved in countless digital literacy initiatives: The HTML500, CodeCreate, Coding for Newbies, the BC Tech Summit, Project Include, CUEBC Conferences, coding workshops in classrooms, and much more. Through these initiatives we’ve been fortunate to introduce over 4,500 Canadians to the world of programming. We believe that every Canadian should have the opportunity to learn to code, not for the sake of becoming programmers, but for the sake of learning to think critically, problem solve and create over consume. All of these initiatives were created to inspire! So how do you inspire a mass group of people to learn to code and create through technology? We believe that at the heart of great education are great teachers. We need to invest in our educators and inspire them to bring a passion for technology into the classroom! There are many ways to promote digital literacy, but the most sustainable solution is through investment into educators. While digital literacy should be the collective responsibility of anyone that acquires knowledge, no one has the tools and passion to inspire the masses more than teachers. Teachers have the power to inspire the next generation of technologists, to bridge gaps and empower creation. One of the major obstacles in delivering coding education is that most teachers in the school system don’t come from a computer science background. Most teachers (and people) have little exposure to coding and computational thinking. They could be intimidated by the level of intelligence required or how hard it would be to teach a “technology muggle” like themselves. Maybe they don’t get that coding is about creating, not typing or complex systems and endless streams of data. Teachers need the tools necessary to spread digital literacy, but also the freedom to inspire their students in their own unique ways. The first step is to remove the barriers and get teachers excited about code. Inadequate resources for training teachers is the largest barrier to exposing kids to coding. Many organizations are focused on teaching kids, but not enough resources are focused on training teachers. A study commissioned by Google found that while parents are eager to get their kids coding, administrators are unaware of the demand (with less that 8% of them believing that the the demand from parents is high) and they lack resources and knowledge for educators. Inadequate resources for training teachers is the largest barrier to exposing kids to coding. The traditional approach has been to bring engineers and developers into the classroom on volunteer basis. While this is an extremely important work, it does not sustainably solve the problem. In addition, recruiting engineers as educators takes for granted that teaching is a craft that requires experience, practice, and a lot of passion. Great teachers can bring computational thinking and coding into schools and all areas of study if we invest the resources into them. What’s next: code + teachers, teachers, teachers. We started this post by telling you a bit about the project, and that we are extremely proud to be working with the Ministry of Education to bring coding education into classrooms across BC. We plan on going above and beyond to ensure that educators are feeling supported! We are also thrilled to be working with our good friends at Kids Code Jeunesse! They are a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering kids, teachers and parents with the skills we all need to thrive in a technology driven society. The KCJ team has spent the past three years doing the extremely important work of bringing coding education and teachers training to schools across the country. Their team brings a huge amount of commitment, passion and expertise to this project! On top of the curriculum project, we are also working on another exciting education initiative in partnerships with CUEBC and other amazing organizations. Code Class: Code Class is a Canada-wide initiative by Lighthouse Labs, Kids Code Jeunesse and CUEBC that aims to empower educators with computational thinking for the classroom in a fun and accessible learning environment. This free, full-day workshop is designed specifically for K-12 educators. Code Class will focus on supporting teachers and students by fostering their understanding of computational thinking, technology and basic coding. While, our methodology takes a stronger stance on supporting teachers, our overall goal has remained unchanged: We’d like to remove barriers and get people excited about technology. This will demonstrate that computational thinking and coding is applicable to all areas of studies (and is a whole lot of fun).