ICT is a subject that I enjoy teaching the most! Two of the reasons are the sheer joy and sense of accomplishment that pupils get from the lessons. Over the years, I have always looked forward to teaching discrete ICT lessons such that, when coding was made statutory in the National Curriculum, I was like a kid in a sweet shop!

A key motivating factor for teaching coding is how my pupils always surprise themselves. In a recent lesson (it was the second lesson in the introduction of coding) I asked the children to ‘tinker’. I told them to have a go. The task was set and they started moving programming scripts around to accomplish the task set. The first time, I tried this, it did not go too well at first. The children were not used to tinkering; they wanted me to tell them what to do. However, I explained to them why they need to tinker. So in this lesson, the aim was to explore how to create a programming script that will enable their onscreen character change its looks. After a few minutes of questioning, we discovered how to do it. From then on, they went to create amazing animations. One child got his character to run across the screen, so I challenged him further. “How can you make the background more exciting?” I asked. A few minutes later, he drew my attention to his screen, he had created a football field and his onscreen character was running across the field! The delight on this child’s face was priceless.

Tinkering is about exploration, learning by doing, by having a go. When children tinker with things, they discover new things, new ways to doing things, they think out of the box and grow as learners and problem solvers. Thomas Edison, said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. This is tinkering.

Tinkering in teaching and learning should never be unfocused or lacking in purpose. It fosters hands-on experiences, encourages learning from failures, and provides opportunities to explore and invent.

SO do you tinker? Do you allow the children tinker?


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