In a speech during a recent visit to Rhode Island, Mary Snapp, Microsoft vice president of philanthropy, made the assertion that computer skills are thinking skills. And we couldn’t agree more. Everything we do at LearningWorks for Kids is guided by the understanding that video games, apps, and technological tools, require and exercise thinking skills and can facilitate the application of those skills in the real world.
Microsoft just committed to helping Rhode Island establish a computer science class for every school within the next year. The focus of this programming is to train thinking skills as much as it is to train children in computer science. “Everyone needs an analytic framework that you can apply,” Ms. Snapp noted, “whether you’re a lawyer or a builder.” When kids have a reflective and analytic attitude regarding the use of computers and technology, they are able to recognize the types of thinking skills and problem-solving skills that are necessary for being innovators, creators, and collaborators. Using technology to improve our lives requires insight and planning. Our LearningWorks for Kids playbooks and app guides are designed to help parents, educators, and childcare professionals facilitate this process.
There are many other ways to teach thinking and executive functioning skills using more traditional methods. But kids are now spending so much of their time with technology that it only makes sense to use the tools they are engaged with to engage them. For too long, the possibilities of using digital technologies to practice these vital 21st-century skills have been ignored by schools. As a Rhode Islander, I am pleased to see our state take a leadership position when it comes to teaching tech skills and thinking skills. LearningWorks for Kids applauds the approach taken by Microsoft in funding the types of programs that not only teach computer programming but foster understanding and practice of executive functions. Computer skills are thinking skills, and both are essential for 21st century success.
Featured image: Flickr user woodleywonderworks