Programming in schools: Lessons from language learning

José Picardo

José Picardo is Assistant Principal in charge of Digital Strategy at Surbiton High School. He has taught languages for over ten years and regularly speaks at learning technologies and foreign languages themed conferences and training events, both nationally and internationally. In addition, José is behind Boxoftricks.net, an award-winning blog where he shares his passion for the use of new technologies to transform the way we teach and learn.

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When we learn to write, we don’t start by studying the process through which the ink travels from the cartridge to the nib of our pen and on to the paper. When we learn to speak another language, we don’t first study buccopharyngeal anatomy in the hope it will facilitate the production of difficult foreign sounds. When we learn to drive a car, we worry more about making the machine work and less about how the machine works.

In each of these cases, achieving a successful outcome – becoming an accomplished writer, a gifted polyglot or a talented racing driver – is not dependent on the intimate knowledge of the processes involved and it can demonstrably be achieved with only a basic understanding thereof.

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