Alexandria Online

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Serious Fun: 5th Grader Teaches the Teachers

When I signed up myself and my son to present a session at the 2011 conference of the International Society for Technology in Education in Philadelphia this June, I had no idea that 105 people would sign up to listen to a 5th grader teach them how to write a computer program. (Click here for a webcast.)

Needless to say, neither one of us slept much the night before. But we were immaculately prepared when the big day came and remarkably calm. My son did a great job and wowed the crowd.

What was interesting to me was that so many people signed up. They wanted to listen to a kid talk about how kids learn to program. He was the authority in the room.

And why not? When he did his demo, a simple version of the classic computer game, "pong," he got a big round of applause. He delivered the goods, as promised. He was smooth and clear in his delivery and never faltered. Bottom line: the game worked.

No Ph.D. from Harvard in education. One person asked me if I was from M.I.T. I said, no, I was a school teacher. The participant smiled and asked, "how about him." We'll see.