We get a lot of “Why” and “What” questions regarding our program. So let me answer two of them: what is Scratch and why do we use Scratch?
After many months of intensive research, as well as numerous pilot lessons with kids, Scratch became a very clear winner. In fact, this would be an understatement. We have been inspired and blown away with some of the projects we saw. We often joke about joining all the classes we offer together with the students. So don’t be surprised if you happen to see one of us sitting next to your kid:)
So let’s start with what is Scratch? Scratch is a visual programming language for kids (and even adults) where they can program their own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share their creations with others in the online world wide community. Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab there is a constant flow of enhancements and innovation! Currently there are over 24 millions projects shared from all over the world.
Most importantly they share the same values and principles about how kids should learn as we do. As we are coming back recently from the Scratch conference in Budapest, these are some of the key thoughts which resonated with us deeply and we would like to share them with you while everything is still fresh:
The following four guiding principles were developed about how to bring Scratch to kids and support activities around Scratch. The key to this is to support kids working on projects, based on their passion in collaboration with peers in a playful spirit:
Projects- The best learning happens when working on a meaningful project. Too often at school kids are taught particular facts that are separated from any meaningful context. They won’t make use of it unless they can integrate it into a meaningful activity. The best learning happens when it’s in a context, in a process of working on a meaningful project.
Passion- Studies has shown that when you are working on things you care about, if you are following your passion, you make a deeper connection with the ideas. Mitch shared a wonderful quote from his mentor a the university:
“Education has a very little to do with explanation, it has to do with engagement, with falling in love with the material.”
Most people think education is only about explanation. Just explaining things and delivering instructions is not the way to help people learn new things. Kids must be deeply engaged, and fall in love with the material. That’s why Scratch has a wide variety of projects kids can dive into.
Peers- It’s important to consider the social side of learning. Most of the most important thinking happens in connection with other people.
Play- It’s the most misunderstood “P”. Some people think it’s just having fun but it goes much beyond fun. It’s the attitude towards the world. It’s the approach, playfulness of engaging with the world, constantly experimenting, trying new things, taking the risks and testing the boundaries. We encourage kids not just to follow the instructions step by step but to experiment, try new things and take risks. That’s when the most important learning happens, when you are willing to try new things.
Our values were created well before attending the conference but it’s in alignment of the “four Ps” listed above and we are looking forward to sharing our values in a future post.