Dream Bigger: #ScratchMIT2018 Reflection

My big take away from #ScratchMIT2018 — Dream Bigger!!!

IX Art Park Charlottesville, VA

I knew that the past couple of years have been rough on my mental state and my motivation, but that really came into focus for me at the #ScratchMIT2018. While I’ve been trying to keep my head down, plugging away doing CS integration at St. Anne’s-Belfield School, growing Tech-Girls outreach and volunteering with Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, the problems in the world seem to loom larger. Here’s just one example that popped up on my radar during the conference related to the lack of women in entrepreneurship & Silicon Valley, but doesn’t this quote from it perfectly illustrate a big problem we are facing in education?

“We should not seek to protect a broken system that enforces such a tedious uniformity of behavior.”

At a session led by Cynthia Solomon and Gary Stager, I learned about the history of and motivation behind the creation of Logo, the precursor to Scratch. They also shared Seymour Papert’s vision:

the fundamental ingredients of educational innovation must be better things to do and better ways to think about oneself doing these things

I’m so grateful this ethos lives on in Scratch and its community, but also frustrated that we aren’t there yet for so many children, teachers and schools.

I learned about a lot of amazing programs from passionate people at the conference working to bring computational thinking, computer science and creative computing to children all over the world. What surprised me most, is how many of these programs are still being done outside the traditional school day or at best, offered as a separate class.

My mantra has been that every student needs to experience CS so they can take control over how technology impacts their lives, their culture and their future. But at the conference, I saw examples of so many more reasons:

it’s not just about teaching a skill, it’s about children developing their thinking & their voice — Mitch Resnik

the creativity, problem solving & pure joy being experienced by all the participants — Physical Computing with Micro:bit & Scratch 3.0

artists pushing the boundaries of computer science while bringing cultures together — Exploring Coding Stitching Culture

family engagement amplifying the impact of computer science when it is used to weave the story of lived experiences and our interconnectedness — Ramya Sivaraj, Scratching Beyond the Surface: Getting Families on Board!

Rohit Bommisetti, founder of CS for Mainline

is computational thinking without the coding widening the gap between the haves & have nots? — Rethinking Computational Thinking

when we think we need to know it all before we dive in, we reduce the beauty and complexity we can discover along the way — Rethinking Computational Thinking

we need to teach children to enjoy being wrong — Cynthia Solomon

Logo was about inventing a diet of mathematics that kids can fall in love with — Gary Stager

you can’t just use robotics because it is cool, it has to be relevant to the kids — Design Thinking Meets Robotics

So what does it mean to dream bigger? I’m not sure, but I think it feels like living life toward a greater purpose, joining forces and collaborating across disciplines, geographies, cultures and all the other differences that seek to separate us and finally not getting bogged down in busyness of today. I think we need to tell better stories about what this looks and feels like because if we do, many more people will want to join in. I will be pondering what this means for me specifically, but I’m guessing it will involve breaking down some walls in a broken system alongside others who are longing to dream bigger.