The Hour of Code is here again and this excites many of our students and educators. Code.org, as always, has a great variety of activities for the beginning coder and the more experienced ones. The Hour of Code is a time to celebrate what is great about computer science, expose many to CS for the first time, and look towards how CS can be expanded in education.
Unfortunately, the Hour of Code also brings out that person...you know, the one who is critical about anything "special".
You might see or hear some things like:
- An hour of code is not enough and does not make up for a lack of computer science opportunities.
- What about an hour of ________________ (fill in the blank with just about anything)?
- What are students really learning in the Hour of Code?
- Playing "games" with code is not "real" coding.
- We need to be going beyond the Hour of Code.
I would actually agree with most of the statements above. It is true that one hour does not constitute robust opportunities to engage in computer science. There is a ton we can do to go beyond the Hour of Code. Yes, there are other areas that deserve recognition too. In education, when we call out something special (ex. - STEM, STEAM, etc.), there is this knee jerk reaction to say what about (insert subject area here). Just because we are highlighting one area, does not mean we are saying others are less worthy. Education should not be a turf war...there should be room for everyone.
So this year, before we jump to criticize the Hour of Code just because it's popular (and sadly this happens far to much in our social media spaces)...let's think about this.
1. The Hour of Code could be a student and/or teacher's first expose to computer science...let's celebrate that.
2. The Hour of Code could be the catalyst to convince school administration that computer science needs to be a part of every students K-12 experience...let's celebrate that.
3. The Hour of Code provides the opportunity for all students to experience computer science, not just the stereotypical CS students...let's celebrate that.
4. The Hour of Code makes computer science accessible to educators with no CS background and perhaps this leads to new learning opportunities for their students...let's celebrate that.
If you are new to the Hour of Code, I hope you have a great first experience. For those of us for whom the Hour of Code is not our first CS rodeo, let's help those going on their first ride. Encourage others and share how you utilize CS in your classroom. Take this opportunity to publicize the great CS activities that you bring to your students.
And for that person, the one who is bound to criticize the Hour of Code and those who participate in it, I hope the above thoughts will give you some pause and new thoughts to ponder.
My plea to you...don't be that person this year.