It won’t be far-fetched to say that the education system has developed into an indoctrination institute that encourages kids to value grades more than knowledge. Without the use of computational thinking techniques, most kids tend to memorise answers instead of understanding the meaning behind them.
Most often than not, kids memorise their lessons and answers to give off the impression that they have comprehended the subject.
When a kid memorises a poem or solves shape puzzles by replicating what they see on TV or YouTube, it does not mean they have understood the poem or the functionality of shapes. It only means that they have found a way to satisfy the elders, who only want the kids to score more in their exams.
So, what can be done in order to get the kids to understand what they are studying rather than memorising everything that comes their way?
The answer is computational thinking. Computational thinking is the process of understanding and solving problems by analysing them thoroughly and going through the best possible solutions to choose the ones that suit the given situation the best.
Computational thinking requires one to break down a problem into separate parts, identifying common aspects in each part, finding out relevant information to make the problem easier, and implementing the gathered data to create a viable solution.
While it may sound complicated, in reality, computational thinking is pretty straightforward and practical. Every kid can learn computational thinking, nevertheless, some kids take to it more naturally than others. Once a kid has understood all the basic pillars of computational thinking and integrate them into their daily lives, they will be practising it in no time.
Why computational thinking is important?
Children are going to grow and up and encounter problems that would require them to think and find probable solutions on their own.
These problems can range from not being able to find the right job to meet an accident or a personal tragedy that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. When children are able to stay calm through difficult situations and consider their best options, they would be able to navigate through problems with ease.
Computational thinking can be the foundation of a problem solving and confident attitude. By encouraging your kids to develop computational thinking, you essentially help develop creativity, innovation and confidence in your kids, which are some of the best skills for them to secure a successful future.
The four pillars of computational thinking
We have already mentioned that the main principles of computational thinking including
- Breaking down problems into smaller parts
- Recognising commonality
- Identifying the relevant information, and
- Using all the gathered data to come up with a solution
Now, let’s take a look at each of the computational thinking for kids in detail
Breaking down problems into smaller parts
The first step to computational thinking is being able to break down a problem into smaller parts. Instead of tackling the problem in its entirety, it is best to counter certain parts of the problem first so you not only have it easy on you but you are also able to understand the situation more intimately.
Breaking down also helps make any situation more manageable and easier to approach. Children, while growing up, tend to face problems and situations that get more complicated with time, hence the skill of decomposition is an important tool to have in their arsenal.
When kids are able to break down a problem, they find it less daunting and overwhelming and more approachable. Not to mention, the ability to break down problems into smaller parts also helps in time management, analysis, and being able to find the optimum solution.
Recognising common grounds
Common grounds refers to patterns, identification of which constitutes the second part of computational thinking. Pattern recognition requires one to be able to recognise patterns/commonality/connections between different parts of the problem. It can help kids find meaningful information in a sea of possibilities.
With pattern recognition, kids can also find immediate solutions to certain issues, especially if they have already encountered them before.
The best way to be able to recognise patterns is to overtake difficult tasks repeatedly and keeping an eye on redundancies or repetitions. Pattern recognition can help with memory, information retention, logical thinking, and creativity through logical and reasoning classes for kids.
Identifying relevant information
The next step is finding out and extracting only the relevant information needed to solve a problem. This also means that kids should be able to ignore irrelevant information presented to them in order to solve the situation as soon as possible.
The best way to identify important information is by ‘seeing the bigger picture, both literally and metaphorically. In order to help your kids, find relevant information and get rid of the useless ones, teach them to back up a bit at times and look at the grand scheme of things.
The best way to do it is by teaching your kids to solve puzzles. A puzzle is a large set made up of small objects. If you look closely at a puzzle, it would be difficult for you to make out which part goes where.
However, if you back up a bit, you will realise what the puzzle is about and how you can solve it by putting the right parts in the right spot. When kids learn to identify relevant information, they also learn the value of organisation, efficiency, resource and time management, and focus.
Putting it all together
The last step of computational thinking requires one to put the results of the adobe mentioned points into one. This process also includes a need for setting up a set of rules that needs to be followed for the desired outcome to take place.
The last step is done in a way that makes it possible for other people to replicate in case they went through the same problems, without having to go through the previous steps.
This step of computational thinking requires children to be concise, communicative, and practical in their approach and come up with a solution that is not only easy to implement but also viable. By learning this process, kids gain the ability to communicate better, have a problem-solving attitude, and convert concepts into actionable steps.
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