What I’ve learned teaching Python with the Raspberry Pi.
For the past few weeks I’ve been taking classes of 15-17 year old students and teaching them a variety of programming concepts and practical knowledge in Python.
Until recently I had never taught anyone anything about these things, so the experience has been entirely new to me and I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Some are surprising to me, but might not be to you:
- All the students I’ve taught have been naturally curious and malleable enough for them to grasp any concept I’ve thrown at them. They pick things up extremely quickly.
- They’ve already covered simple algebraic logic in mathematics, so with that in mind, I was able to introduce nearly all the programming concepts to them from a logical manner.
- Whilst teaching Python you’ll find yourself quoting almost the exact code needed to solve the problem. This might be because Python has a really nice readable syntax. It certainly helps teaching it.
- After covering Python basics (variables, lists, functions and if statements) I could set simple tasks and the students could come up with solutions in less than 30 minutes.
- All the students I’ve taught have loved the Raspberry Pi. Most have been completely astounded at a computer they can fit in their hand.
- Half of the students I’ve introduced to the Raspberry Pi have asked me how to get hold of one.
- At a school that I regularly run a programming club in, students have started bringing in their Raspberry Pi they’ve purchased to learn how to program more.
- I’ve seen student’s attitude and opinion towards computers completely change over a few weeks after giving them a Raspberry Pi to play with.
All of this has taught me one thing:
The Raspberry Pi really has helped me to start a decent education or interest in computer science with a lot of students.
I’d say in the past few months, I’ve taught around 80 students already. From the feedback I’ve gotten from teachers - about a third of them have pursued things further afterwards without any help from myself.
What is the next step?
After that, who knows? More schools, bigger classes, world domination?
A better educated country?
One thing is for sure - I believe educators and Raspberry Pi need to work together to help organise a lesson structure or guide on what can be covered with the Raspberry Pi.
I also thoroughly believe teachers need their own refresh or introduction course to cover these things. I’ve held a teacher training day with 10 teachers in October and they, like the students, absolutely loved this new style of hands on teaching.