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Magic Makers: making coding child’s play!

Today, many French parents visiting potential secondary schools for their children are more interested in their IT facilities than in if their child can combine English with German options.

IT is becoming increasingly present in our lives and one of the underlying aspects of our smartphones, tablets and other forms of internet access, is coding.

Whether this be Java, Python, .net, Delphi or one of the many other languages, very few schools in France offer an introduction to our young students to the fundamentals required to learn how to code.

It is therefore this niche market that has attracted Magic Makers. By offering coding workshops for children and teenagers, Magic Makers goes beyond mere after-school activities or digital play schemes – it offers fun activities to teach children how to write programmes.

The company offers three types of on site services in Paris and Bordeaux (for the moment):

  • theme-based discovery workshops;
  • courses during the school holidays;
  • weekly workshops throughout the year, in the same way as your children take part in sporting and cultural activities.

Magic Makers also offer training on how to teach coding aimed at teachers for example, via the Class’Code project in partnership with Inria and Openclassrooms.

Of course, I hear you say, aren’t there more fundamental and more important things that our children need to learn than how to code? Of course, but the digital divide which is part of the more global divide in our education system is beginning to grow.

We can view this learning as an option, or a passing trend, as Jason Tanz highlights in an article published a few years ago “Soon we won’t program computers. We’ll train them like dogs”[1]. A way of saying that coding will soon be a thing of the past as machine learning, deep learning (the ability of machines to learn by themselves by being fed masses of data) will lead us to communicating differently.

For example, to describe a cat to artificial intelligence, we will no longer provide the machine with a code telling it to look for whiskers, pointy ears and fur. Instead, we’ll show it thousands of photos of cats so that it can tell the difference with other animals with the same characteristics.

However, I fully agree with Cédric Villani (winner of the 2010 Fields Medal) regarding learning how to code while still at school:

“It is not the familiarity gained with the machine that is important, but rather familiarity with the approach, problem solving, how IT thinks. The best age to learn all of this is when we are young and programming is a game”.

I am a great believer that such learning enhances children’s reasoning, autonomy, cooperation and creativity.

Magic Makers , in my view, has its role to play in “Doing well by doing good”.

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