Today is the first day of Middle School for many of the kids that I’ve taught coding to and have been an Odyssey of the Mind coach to, including my daughter. My own nervous excitement about this new beginning is offset by knowing that the kids I’ve worked with have developed a strong growth mindset that gives them the confidence to embrace new challenges and tackle hard problems.
Embarking on coding projects and entering middle school share striking similarities. Both are journeys filled with opportunities and obstacles. Both involve growth, learning, and personal development. And in both cases, the key to success lies in patience, dedication, continuous learning, and the willingness to embrace challenges.
Middle school brings advanced academic challenges and coding requires intricate problem solving. Both demand breaking down complexity into manageable bits.
Just as middle school introduces students to unfamiliar subjects, coding projects often involve learning new programming languages, tools, and methods. The initial learning stages can feel scary and overwhelming, however the key is to embrace the learning process.
As middle schoolers dissect new concepts, coders deconstruct problems into solvable parts. Determination and the willingness to learn new things drive them to persistently address each piece, nurturing problem-solving skills in the process.
Middle school is the time for new and changing relationships. The social scene becomes more complex. Friendships become more intricate with instances of peer pressure and conflicts.
Just as kids learn to navigate the sometimes-rough waters of friendships and interacting with classmates and teachers, coders learn to work collaboratively with others and to effectively communicate.
Patience, empathy and the willingness to communicate nurture positive and productive relationships.
Learning from setbacks
Middle schoolers learn from failures, and so do coders. Kids miss the bus, don't ace their test, forget their assignments. Projects might falter, deadlines might slip, yet we keep moving forward.
Both contexts underscore the value of accepting mistakes as a critical part of learning. We recognize our failures and don't avoid future difficulties, rather we use them as learning tools to propel future success.
The path of coding mirrors the journey through middle school. Perseverance emerges as the common thread, nurturing adaptability, problem-solving, resilience, and learning from failures.
Both experiences teach that perseverance isn't merely surmounting challenges—it's the crucible of growth, enabling individuals to thrive in the face of the unfamiliar.