There is a lot to say when it comes to what the traditional education system lacks. When teachers and students aim for good grades more than knowledge, there lies the risk of underdeveloped skills. Whether we admit it or not, often we may consciously, or unconsciously provide the solutions or give the right answers to our children rather than encouraging them to figure it out themselves- all for the sake of a getting passing grade.
Before computers can be used in problem-solving, we must understand the problem itself and the ways how it can be resolved. This is where computational thinking techniques help.
What is Computational Thinking?
Let’s define computational thinking first. In education, computational thinking is a set of problem-solving methods that involve expressing problems and their solutions in ways that a computer could also execute. Before there were computers, the problem itself and the ways how it can be solved must first be understood. Computational techniques help these tasks.
It allows us to take complex problems, understand what the problem is and develop solutions. We can then show these solutions in ways that computers, humans or both can understand. It’s a thought process, a pre-requisite skill needed for understanding the technologies for the future. Computational thinking is often linked to coding and computers, but it can also be taught without a device.
The Four Cornerstone of Computational Thinking
There are four techniques or cornerstones to computational thinking:
· Decomposition - breaking down complex problems or systems into smaller, more manageable parts.
· Pattern recognition -looking for similarities among within the problem
· Abstraction – focusing on the important information only
· Algorithms – developing a step-by-step solution to the problem, or the rules to solve the problem
Each of these cornerstones is just as important as the other one. Think of them as the legs on a table- if a leg is missing, the table will surely collapse. Applying all four techniques will help in programming a computer.
Programming vs Computational thinking
It is important to note that thinking computationally is not programming. It should not even be considered as thinking like a computer, because computers, cannot think. Programming tells a computer what to do and how to do it. Computational thinking allows you to do exactly what to tell the computer to do.
Let’s say you agree to meet your friends in a place that you’ve never been to before. So, you would probably plan your route before you head out the door, right? You’d consider the fastest route, or which route is best. Then you’d follow the directions to get there.
In this example, the planning part is computational thinking, and following the direction is the programming part.
Why Should You Teach Your Kids Computational Thinking?
Computational thinking is a mindset that helps encourage children to examine or analyse a problem and create a solution for it purposely. This is a general problem-solving skill that can be integrated with Science, Math and Communication.
When you nurture this in your kids, they will learn how to:
· and automate.
Your kids will develop these essential skills along the way:
· Resource recognition and management
· Information retention
· Analysis of information
· Physical, logical and emotional perception
· Deep thinking
· How to navigate social situations
Your child will enhance their intellectual skill and mental health as soon as they start learning computational thinking. It also helps them boost their ability to understand problems, analysation, and making solutions. With this, your child can apply all these strong competencies in life and projects that are associated with technology.
Aside from that, computer scientists, software engineers, developers, and programmers use computational thinking skills to achieve their goals. It shows them how to plan, build, fix, and maintain the platforms they created.
Introduce computational thinking with coding
Many believe that it is challenging and complicated to teach computational thinking to kids because of the complexities of technology, however, through simple and fun ways, you will be able to easily start teaching them “how to think” like programmers.
To start developing those computational thinking skills, allowing your child to explore programming is a surefire way to do it. This is just one of the reasons why kids should learn to code is important.
Building their computational skills, kids become more effective communicators, critical thinkers, better planners, and problem solvers. They will see that coding has all these kinds of stimulating and interesting applications and connections to other topics they love.
Skill Samurai teaches coding for kids 6 to 16 years old. Learn more about it here.