Yesterday I took Blippit to the National Museum of Computing – immediate neighbour of Bletchley Park. To be invited as part of their Bytes Festival and work directly with their visiting families surrounded by such history was not half-bad.
Out of school you get such an insight into how parents relate to their children and learning as a whole. They share insights with you quite openly and comment on your limitless patience with their child who frankly drives them nuts most of the time.
There’s noone marking, setting targets or observing when it’s just you and a family which makes for some very natural and easy steps forwards. One young man (Year 3) made an app and learned what HTML 5 markup language was as he worked with me on the side and his mum making encouraging comments as he progressed. To say he was ‘off his seat’ with excitement when he saw his app on mum’s phone (she downloaded a QR code reader to get it) is an understatement.
Another young man’s Dad regaled me with stories of his son’s disengagement at school contrasting with his persistence, resilience and immersion in his favoured world of technology. It’s not an unusual story and we all know children like this but seeing how he learned was interesting. Essentially it was broadly like this
- “listen to the expert”
- “grab the basics”
- “build and try out”
- “go over bits as needed with expert again”
- “build towards a result”
- “improve on published app”
I’ve been lucky (no doubt about that) to teach in many different schools and environments over the years sometimes as a ‘regular’ teacher, sometimes as an ‘advisory’ teacher and more recently as the ‘Blippit Man’.
The ‘Blippit Man’ tag does generate extra attention and effort from children no doubt at all so my reflections are mindful of how children respond to people they view as ‘experts’ from the ‘real’ world.
This bit of shine from an external expert isn’t sustainable and so it makes what teachers and children achieve together, day in day out, all the more remarkable.
The National Museum of Computing is an awe inspiring place for anyone with the slightest interest in technology and they’re pretty rammed with school visits and tours but if you’ve not been yet, do yourself a favour and go!