Imagination First NOT Logical Thinking


The funny thing about human mind is that we like to presume and then assume the reality to be the same. When I speak to people about coding for kids most are quick to give me a perplexed look – one filled with doubts about their child’s abilities. Most are quick to assume that you need to be math savvy and doused in logical thinking to learn coding. Quite the contrary if you ask me!

So, is logical thinking more critical than imagination and a sense of reality? Albert Einstein once said: “Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world. All knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.” But, imagination, logical thinking and reality all form a complex chain in our thinking.

Young kids have their experiences locked in their minds. Their developing brain is a fusion of what they see and what they imagine. They are still in the process of building their realities and their own pool of experiences. Many will grow up to believe to focus on realities in front of them and will soon abandon their imaginative worlds. Although some may find the balance, most will end up choosing one end of the spectrum. So, why is it so important to be imaginative?

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” Albert Einstein

Imagination takes you places. There are no laws governing the world you create for yourself. It is where ideas are born. You are not concerned with limitations or the right resources. You make the rules and you rule. There is no explanation to be given about your imaginative idea or world. It just is! It is a tough task to teach someone to be imaginative. Imagination gives you the tools to change the world around you.

Logical thinking on the other hand, can be taught and learnt. With the explosion of “digital everything”, it is a double-edged sword. At one end, is the perpetual flow of video games, apps and TV shows that we enjoy. At the other end, is the tough art of creating those enjoyable moments. Channeling the love of video games and apps into the art of constructing them should be the focus of classrooms. We are no longer at that junction where we are debating if every child needs digital education. That trajectory has already been set. Every child must learn the forces behind the digital world. But here lies the beauty of learning computer programming. When you start early, you erase the misconceptions. If taught right, you focus on and unleash the power of imagination to conceive worlds beyond reach. You generate ideas, you collaborate on ideas. Then you learn to build those worlds. You do so by imagining first, then journaling your ideas, you refine your ideas, and then you pick a tool and tell the computer what to do. Guess what: you are learning to be logical! You are not learning to code to be a professional coder but just like learning math, you are enriching the knowledge base of your new world. You are no longer oblivious to how a smart phone works or how the Roomba knows how to navigate the room or how Netflix knows what to suggest as the next best pick for you or how Amazon knows what you are likely to buy next based on your navigation patterns.

Learning anything requires the right environment the right methods and the right resources. In comes my idea of a “Creative Classroom”. A Creative Classroom is one where ideas are generated, discussed and implemented. No idea is discarded. We fail in a Creative Classroom before we succeed. Every idea goes through a process of journaling where you break down your thoughts into micro steps, thus creating a flow chart. You work in teams to enrich and modify ideas. You come up with a set of concrete instructions to give the computer. And out comes a logically thought through reality.

In conclusion, I will leave you with these thoughts to ponder upon: When is it the right time to expose young minds to coding? Is there right type of “Mind” to learn coding? Kids have a natural learning curve that allows them to be imaginative while learning - their thinking is not bound by the laws of the world around them. They bring the most innocent, yet difficult questions to the fore. And they let their imagination run wild. That, I believe, is what is required to learn coding.

About the Author:

Shirin Merchant is the founder of Code-it Hacks, Inc. A technology enthusiast, Shirin has worked in the field of technology for over 20 years. Starting her career as a developer, Shirin has worked and consulted with numerous fortune 500 companies. Shirin is now bringing the same principles and enthusiasm to her “Creative Classroom” where she vows to train young minds in the art of coding. Her famous mantra: “It all begins with imagination; the rest is all mechanical.”

You can learn more about the interesting program at www.codeithacks.com. Or follow her on twitter @codeithacks @shirinmerchant.

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