During a free session on computational thinking offered by Kurious EduTech I interacted with a third grade student and what he said took me by surprise.
“My friends have joined online coding classes and I also want to learn. Tell me how to do coding?”
Then I gave him the 9 dot puzzle to solve. The goal of the puzzle is to link all 9 dots using four straight lines or fewer, without lifting the pen and without tracing the same line more than once.
Then I asked him to try joining the points using four straight lines. He was not able to do it. So I decided on giving a hint. I said, let’s divide the problem into smaller problems. Instead of thinking about 9 dots, let us first connect four or five dots using two straight lines.
As soon as I did this, he was able to identify the pattern and solve the next half.
To achieve any objective in our life it is important that we take one step at a time and succeed in it. To be a good coder, it is important to be able to understand problem space, analyse the constraints and have the capacity to develop the strategy.
Having the knowledge of a computer language can help you code the strategy but not formulate it.
MS Dhoni, the former captain of India cricket team is arguably the best decision maker India has ever seen in its cricket history. Such kind of decisions require computational thinking. As a badminton player, Saina Nehwal needs to analyse the game strategy of her opponent and develop her own to win the game. Abstraction capability of Chef, Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor is well known. He can identify the ingredients of the dish by looking and tasting it. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet has to carry out several tasks algorithmically inorder to take his company ahead. These skills — problem decomposition, abstraction, pattern recognition, algorithmic thinking together constitute computational thinking.
How should you be prepared as a parent?
It is important that your kid start from the basics and progress step by step. It is very unlikely that a student might solve an integration or a differentiation problem without the basic knowledge of arithmetic. The important questions to consider are what is the computational capability of the child? What can be done to improve it? What is the curriculum being taught? Is it relevant to the age? Are we doing it step by step? Given a new problem based on the concepts taught, how likely will the syllabus equip my child to solve it?
We need to be ambitious, competitive with broader goals in mind but at the same time do not follow the trend like sheep. We need to introspect
Are we making our child rote learn to develop some apps or are we skilling them?