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That Scratch Is Spreading!

October 30, 2007

I’ve just had the pleasure of watching a master at work. Not bad when you realise the master in question is only ten, and his pupils are sitting on a different continent!

Scratching... 07My oldest boy, Andrew, leads a double life. By day he is a frighteningly good scrum-half, but by night he is a prodigious Scratcher called Munkeeb. Because of this, I read Will Richardson’s recent post about supplementing his children’s education with great interest. In fact, after a quick chat with Andrew, I offered Andrew’s services to show Will’s kids how to use Scratch. The past couple of weeks have involved a handful of emails back and forwards as we made arrangements, and also a crash course in using Yugma until tonight it all came together.

I know I’m biased, but Andrew did really, really well. I was sitting beside him to help with the technical side of conferencing, but he took care of all the explanations of how to use Scratch. He started by walking through the various parts of the Scratch workspace before talking his class through basic motion, animation and changing the backgrounds. An incredibly short hour later and he had Will’s kids looking at their own animated bats chasing the mouse through a spooky forest… Not bad for someone who has only ever been on the receiving end of education before this!

If ever you wanted proof that we can find learning everywhere and from everyone, tonight was it. The earth was flattening before my eyes as Andrew talked a group of kids in America through an introduction to programming. I need to think more fully about the implications of what I was watching, and I think I need someone like Will himself to give these thoughts some shape and direction. The implications of being able to find what you want to know from someone who is willing to share… even if they are not present… turns our traditional model of education on its head… and even more so when you realise that the person with the knowledge you require might be the person you thought you ought to be teaching!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2007 12:15 am

    Thank you so much Andrew and Neil. I’m so bummed that I missed it by Tess and Tucker said they learned a lot from a great teacher! Maybe you can teach me at some point!

    And yes, this does turn the traditional model on its head…



  2. October 31, 2007 12:25 am

    It was very much our pleasure… Andrew’s really pleased with how it went and – be warned – is already planning the next lesson!

    I’m still just amazed at the confidence to do what he did… I could never have done that at his age!

  3. October 31, 2007 9:38 am

    That sounded excellent, did you record the session? If not maybe you should and then podcast it, there appears to be a growing interest in the use of scratch and I am sure, from what you said, that this would be an excellent start.


  4. November 1, 2007 2:00 am

    I have to make a confession before posting any further. This is my first response ever to any blog. I have been “lurking” for a long time and reading Will’s work for months and I feel it is now time to put myself out there and tell you this post rocked me to my core! I am an elementary teacher with two teenage children of my own, and I have been “supplementing” their technological education. But what is truly happening is that they are supplementing mine. What they can do, produce and with whom they communicate on the Web astounds me. But to them, it’s second nature. I agree that this collaboration revolution is going to set traditional schooling on its head, and those who don’t get on board are going to suffer from an educational “concussion”!!!

  5. November 1, 2007 7:22 am

    @Steve: I tried to record it, albeit only using a Video Camera. I’ll have time at the weekend to try extracting the audio.

    I think Wendy was screen-grabbing at the other end, so between us, we might have a lot of it… but I think the finished article would be of more interest as an example of what can be achieved rather than as a teaching artefact in its own right… maybe next time? ;0)

    @Mary: I am honoured! I had a pupil in my class yesterday quoting from my Bebo page… which he had on the web browser on his mobile phone… and suddenly the reality of classrooms without walls was staring me in the face….

    We are living in a connected world where traditional models are rapidly becoming irrelevant because the end users see no need for them… trying to prevent this change strikes me as being a bit like King Canute trying to hold back the ocean…

    Finally… I like the sound of your blog… Welcome aboard!

  6. November 1, 2007 8:15 pm

    hi Neil,
    Congratulations to Munkeeb. Sounds like he did a great job. I’ve always like the idea of children teaching children ict skills, in class it is often easier to teach a couple and let them cascade especially when we were limited by hardware.
    The challenge is how to replicate this learning on a wider scale and incorporate it into schools.

  7. November 3, 2007 11:49 pm

    I am very interested in the fact that “supplementing” is, in your piece and Will’s, synonymous with self- or group-directed learning.

    I have a group of middle school students interested in Scratch if your little one is available for more lessons.

  8. November 16, 2007 7:33 pm

    Hi Gerald,
    Sorry for the delay in responding. I’m sure Munkeeb would be up for it. I’ll email you to see what we can do.

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