I went on a day trip to Brussels on Tuesday 27th September to attend a two-hour debate by about 40 participants. All were highly motivated professionals, positive, determined, actively engaged. Many of them were not teachers. Some were from the EU Commission and EU Parliament but most (like myself representing Navan CoderDojo) were volunteer participants from all over Europe. Ireland’s EU CodeWeek Ambassador Mags Amond, was there along with two other Irish attendees, one an EU Code Week Ambassador representing France! I was one of the invited participants. I received my orange tee-shirt and name tag on arrival. The full debate was recorded live on a web cast and it can be watched at the Europa.eu website. During the debate I managed to get in my tuppence-worth about coding with SCRATCH using Ready Steady Code. The title of the debate was “How to make every week Code Week.”
To listen to my precise inputs you need to fast forward the webcast to 34:30 and again to 1:14:00. I was pleased that Ready Steady Code was remarked upon positively among Claire Bury’s closing points and in the general chat afterwards. Why did the chairperson, English woman Claire Bury, say that what they did in England was a “massive mistake”? (1:15:00)
Chairperson was: Claire Bury, Deputy Director General of DG CONNECT
Main Speakers (they gave key contributions not long talks):
- Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Member of the European Parliament, Member of the ITRE Committee
- Alessandro Bogliolo, Associate Professor of Computer Systems, Urbino University and Coordinator of Code Week
- Ilona Kish, Director of Public Libraries Association, gathering 65.000 Libraries across Europe
- Kristen Doran, (Irish) Senior HR Partner at SAP,co-organizer of Africa Code Week
The debate was intended to look at the questions:
- What are the most important reasons for which individual people and organisations engage in fostering programming and related digital skills needed for today’s world?
- How to best connect with people across the continent and the world and make a common project on these issues happen – lessons learnt 2013-2016 and a message for the future?
- How can we bring Code Week to the next level?
Alessandro Bogliolo in his summary said that we need to define what we mean by ‘Coding’ (it’s not computer programming.) The definition is important as a wrong perception of what ‘coding’ is, gives rise to reluctance and negativity. In discussion after the debate, when asked, I described Ready-Steady-Code as a complementary way to do maths (not a replacement). RSC uses Scratch code to correlate coding with written work in maths. It’s like a 21st century pencil and copybook. RSC is to middle and senior classes what 100-squares, Counters, Interlocking Cubes, Notation Boards, Transition Boards etc are to junior classes. Coding with RSC does not throw out the baby with the bath water.
In the event that I would not get the chance to say anything, I brought 20 copies of a two-page printed summary of RSC and left it on the table for anyone to pick up. It is headed: ‘The Stand-out Features of Scratch with Ready Steady Code’. RSC is an Irish innovation. There’s nothing else like it but we can’t judge innovation if we don’t look at it. Having paid my own way to Brussels and back, I reckon I got good value from Ryanair because in Brussels I was listened to, I got in my say on the web cast and I felt good about that.
If you have read this article and you would like me to send you a PDF copy of my ‘Brussels 2-page Summary’, please contact me through the web site online form and I will get in touch with you.