ENHANCED CRITICAL THINKING, DEDUCTIVE REASONING AND LOGIC THROUGH CODE
A major focus of Hilton College’s academic programme is the development of integrated thinking. Too often within education, learning occurs in silos – something that is at odds with a world that is becoming increasingly inter-connected.
In this edition of Grey Matter Chatter, Praveshen Iyer, HOD of Mathematics, explains why the Grade 8 and 9 syllabi will include CODING activities.
Linking maths and coding
Mathematics is a subject that is designed to develop various levels of cognition through both abstract and concrete processes and thus its evolution to adapt its offering in this conceptual and technological era is an opportunity that must be seized.
The Hilton College Mathematics Department will include CODING activities in the Grade 8 and 9 syllabi that will improve students’ ability to develop their logical thinking, creativity and programming capabilities.
We have designed a programme that is underpinned by the purpose of our modern education system, that is, to be well-functioning and responsible individuals who will contribute to the well-being of our world.
The following skills have been identified:
Solving mathematical and logical problems
Developing interpretative skills
Developing reasoning capabilities
Strengthening of one’s attention to detail
Developing computational thinking
Modelling of real-life situations
We feel that students have the potential to be developers and not merely consumers of new technology.
The coding hype
Steve Jobs described Computer Science as a Liberal Art and one that teaches individuals how to think.
Similarly to musical notes and the language of music, one needs to first understand the symbols, then interpret sounds before creating one’s own masterpiece through imagination. Coding offers the same but in a different context.
CODE is a popular nickname for Computer Science. Computers need to follow precise instructions written by human programmers, but these programmers require creativity that cannot be provided by a machine.
A different way of thinking
Coding requires thought processes that many of our boys may not have encountered before. The number system that we are used to working with is the base 10 number system with digits 0 to 9.
Computers use Binary Code which only works with 2 values, that is 0 and 1.
Counting in Binary would go as follows: 0 ; 1 ; 10; 11; 100; 101; 110; 111; 1000 etc.
Everything a computer does through programming is done through micro transistors. One micro-transistor is called a bit. Eight of these micro-transistors in a row is called a byte.
A micro-transistor switched off represents a zero in binary code and if it is switched on, this represents a one.
Binary Code must also be able to convert the 0s and 1s to letters which will appear on your computer screen.
For a computer to be programmed to show a name on the screen: P IYER; it will be programmed as follows:
Precise instruction needs to be programmed for our computing devices to offer functionality at the level we currently experience.
Why include CODING in our Mathematics syllabus?
The introduction of Coding is to facilitate thinking. It is not about gadgets.
English is not taught only to individuals who want to become writers, nor is Mathematics taught only to individuals who want to become mathematicians; rather they are taught as foundational learning areas that enable other pursuits. Language and Mathematics are enablers; one allows for communication and the other allows for the decoding of our world’s systems.
Similarly, Coding is not just for Coders/Programmers, it is a foundational learning area in this age. It offers a more engaging opportunity to develop logic, problem-solving and critical thinking abilities than the usual factorising of polynomials and contrived problem-solving contexts often encountered in Mathematics.
Learning how to code can be likened to learning how to spell, read and use correct grammar. Once that point is reached, and the language is learnt, one can easily take on complex problems and create new things through imagination.
We are hoping, through our course, that in addition to skills development, our students’ brain language centre is activated, and new neural connections are formed with existing ones being strengthened.
What do we have planned?
Our course will be integrated within the allocated teaching times for Mathematics and will start with three levels of ‘screen-free’ activities.
Level 1: Development of Procedures
The activity includes students being given maps of coloured squares. Each colour has pre-programmed moves for a robot to perform. Problem-solving skills are required to determine the move that will successfully get the robot from start to finish.
Level 2: Understanding Control Structures
These activities include maps where the pathways are colourless, and a robot is only allowed to travel on coloured pathways. The students will be required to colour in the pathways to ensure that the robot completes its mission.
Level 3: Boolean Logic
Students are given a robot to fix. Within the robots are wires that need to be activated by power cells. Using logical deductions and clues, the students will be required to insert the power cells correctly to repair the robots.
As with everything else we do at Hilton College, we are striving to bring purpose and enjoyment into boys’ learning. We hope that, as parents, you take pleasure in seeing your boys make all these new discoveries.