Scratch: what is it and what does it have to do with education?

What do you think of the sentence “learning programming should be as important as reading and writing”? The MIT Media Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory that uses new technologies and languages ​​to improve education and foster creative teaching experiences, believes that everyone should learn what programming, one of the 21st century’s most important skills.

Quite different from what lay people may believe, learning to code or to program is not exclusive to people who want to work with it. It allows children and young people to develop new ways of learning and seeing the world. In addition, it is a means of becoming fluent in new technologies, a fundamental skill in a world that develops new software and tools on a daily basis.

How to introduce, however, the universe of programming in early childhood education? Scratch is one of the simple and fun ways to do this. In today’s post, you will be able to understand how it works and get to know 7 reasons to implement it in the classroom. It is simpler than you might think and can greatly contribute to student development.

Wait a minute: what is Scratch?

Scratch is a programming language created by MIT’s own Media Lab, one of the world’s largest technology institutes. It is simple and much more accessible than other languages, as it requires no prior knowledge of those who want to start developing programs and has a super simple and intuitive graphical interface.

Scratch is available for free in an easily accessible virtual environment and is translated into over 40 languages. In an online community, you can share projects and check the work of other users around the world, enabling people of various ages and nationalities to access codes and exchange online experiences.

Why using it in education?

Even if children and young people are completely familiar with technology, it is important to understand that being digitally native is different from having digital fluency. While the first concept is about the ability to use gadgets intuitively without anyone having to teach them step by step, the second concerns the ability to express oneself through technology. We are talking here about people able to participate in society, knowing how to communicate, create solutions and show their ideas to the world, taking advantage of the possibility originated by the internet.

Scratch is a great way to introduce classroom programming because it’s so simple: it works with blocks, each of which represents a function or control in the program. The person chooses what they want and simply assembles in the virtual environment, being able to follow the outcome of their effort and thus review the program created, improve aspects of it and discuss new possibilities with a large community. You are not required to know how to write the code, but even so, with Scratch you can develop the analytical skills and understand how the programming behind everything we use today works.

7 reasons to use Scratch in the classroom:

  • It encourages children and adolescents to develop thinking scheme and to systematically reason.
  • It challenges imagination and allows the person to explore various elements to express what they want.
  • It does not require coding knowledge, although it makes its user familiar with how the programming works.
  • It draws the attention of young people who are already fully familiar with technology and allows them to continue learning outside the classroom as well.
  • It creates a discussion environment focused on planning a program in which children and young people help each other seeking to develop and learn about better solutions.
  • It exercises cognitive ability and the use of human senses.
  • It allows sharing work and understanding that groups can develop solutions that are best for everyone (https://scratch.mit.edu is full of options and content for young people, parents and educators).

How about accessing the Scratch portal and learning how it works in practice? This is the first step in understanding how simple it is to apply in class. Also check out the interview that Fernando Americano, from Le Wagon, gave to CER. In it, he talks about the potential that programming teaching has to transform education and its impact on entrepreneurial culture.

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