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With all the excitement these days about “teaching kids to code,” it seems an important moment to pause and consider why that’s the right thing to do, and how to achieve the greatest impact.
The danger, of course, is sending the message that a kid can bang out an app in a two-hour workshop and leverage that experience to unlock access to learning and career. As engaging and rewarding as a short-term/one-time experience can be, too often it stops there. What about sustained involvement? What about opportunities to develop real expertise? What about persisting and iterating again and again and again until you get it right? What about collaborating with professional colleagues and building something that matters?
We posed these questions as part of a cross-generational conversation between our partner and MIT Professor Hal Abelson, who is also founding director of Creative Commons, and Youth Radio Innovation Lab co-founder, Asha Richardson. Hal and Asha sat down inside our Oakland studio to talk about what’s possible today that you couldn’t do even five years ago, what it means to approach app development as just another form of media creation, and what it takes to teach kids to develop projects that are worth making.